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Posted on 10 August 2020

Carbon Monoxide Safety

While we’re still staying at home a little more than normal, it’s important you know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s a silent killer because you can’t see it, hear it or taste it but it’s responsible for over 40 deaths year, according to the Office of National Statistics.

What is carbon monoxide?

It’s a highly poisonous gas produced by the incomplete burning of natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). This can happen when a gas appliance has been incorrectly fitted, badly repaired or poorly maintained. It can also occur when flues, chimneys or vents are blocked. Solid fuels such as coal, wood, petrol and oil can also produce carbon monoxide when they burn.

What are the signs of a carbon monoxide leak?

  • The boiler pilot light is burning yellow or orange instead of blue
  • Sooty stains on or near your appliances
  • Increased condensation inside windows
  • Coal or wood fires that burn slowly or go out
  • You or your family are suffering prolonged, flue-like symptoms

If you detect any of these signs, please contact a Gas Safe registered engineer immediately to come and inspect your gas appliances.

What are the symptoms to watch out for?

There are six main symptoms to look out for:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Breathlessness
  • Collapse
  • Loss of consciousness

Other signs that this is Carbon Monoxide poisoning rather than a cold, are that symptoms occur when you’re at home but seem to disappear when you leave and that others in your household are experiencing similar symptoms at a similar time.

What to do if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning

  • Get fresh air immediately –  don’t delay!
  • Open your doors and windows, turn off any gas appliances and leave your house
  • See a doctor immediately or go to hospital. There’s a blood test doctors can run to check and advise if you need treatment
  • If you think there’s immediate danger, call the Gas Emergency Helpline on 0800 111 999.

How to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

To minimise the risk of this happening, one of the most important things you can do is to ensure that your gas appliances (especially your boiler) are checked annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Installing an accredited carbon monoxide (CO) leak detector or CO alarm in your home is a good second line of defence. As an alarm only activates once there is CO present however, you should rely on it as your sole form of prevention.

According to the Gas Safe Register website, making sure that any alarm you buy is marked EN 50291 and has the British Standard Kitemark is essential. They do not recommend use of ‘black spot detector’ warning strips as the warning is too easily missed and no sound is emitted so won’t alert you if you have a leak while you’re asleep.

To find out more about how we’re here to solve your emergency breakdowns with our boiler and central heating cover including service and other types of home emergency cover, including plumbing and drainage and home appliances cover, contact our friendly team on 0330 09 48 301. You can even request a call back to discuss your requirements or get a quote online.

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