• Carbon Monoxide safety advice

  • Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas produced when fossil fuels like gas, coal, oil or wood are burnt where there’s not enough oxygen. Carbon monoxide is caused by poor ventilation or faulty appliances. It’s colourless, odourless and could be fatal.

  • The warning signs

    Carbon monoxide is colourless. But it’s easy to identify signs that indicate your gas or heating appliances could be producing it. 

    Danger signs can include:

    • Orange or yellow gas flames, gas flames should be blue.
    • Sooty stains or discolouration on or around gas appliances.
    • Increased levels of condensation in rooms with gas appliances.
    • Fumes or smoke in the house.
    • Slower than usual burning of solid fuel fires.

    Recognising carbon monoxide poisoning

    Recognising the early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning could save your life.

    The symptoms are similar to the flu and include:

    • Headaches                                                                                               
    • Drowsiness                                                                                                    
    • Visual problems                                                            
    • Dry throat   
    • Nausea                                                                                                                     
    • Vomiting                                                                                                                                                  

    If you experience these symptoms but feel better when you’re outside or away from your home, it’s possible that you’re suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.

    If carbon monoxide is in your home

    If you think that there may be carbon monoxide in your home, there are some steps to take to prevent adverse effects to your health. 

    These include:

    • Make sure the faulty appliance is switched off (do not use it again until it has been inspected or repaired by a Gas Safe Register™ engineer).
    • Switch off your gas supply at the mains control valve.  This is done by pulling the handle 90°, so that it’s at a right angle to the pipe.
    • Open all your doors and windows to ventilate the house.
    • Phone the national Gas Emergency Number on 0800 111 999.
    • Visit your doctor urgently and explain your symptoms may be related to CO poisoning and ask that a blood or breath sample is tested.

    If someone is seriously ill from poisoning it’s vital that they leave the room and get fresh air.  They should be kept comfortable, avoiding exertion, and you should call for medical help urgently.  Make sure that when help arrives you tell them that you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning. This will ensure that appropriate treatment is given quickly.

    How to prevent poisoning

    There are some simple things you can do to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning including buying an audible Carbon Monoxide detector.

    • Always make sure you have enough fresh air in the room.
    • Ensure chimneys and flues aren’t blocked up and air vents aren’t covered.
    • Make sure your gas appliances are serviced regularly by a Gas Safe Register™ engineer.
    • Buy an audible Carbon Monoxide detector.

    Gas Safe Register TM  

    From 1 April 2009, the CORGI registration scheme was replaced by a new registration scheme called Gas Safe Register™.

    By law, gas engineers must be registered on the Gas Safe Register™ to be able to work on gas installations. You can be reassured that all of our gas engineers are Gas Safe Register™ engineers.

    Buying a detector for home

    The most important thing to find out, when buying a carbon monoxide alarm, is if it meets current British and European safety standards.

    Always choose an audible alarm, so that you’ll be alerted if you’re asleep, and closely follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing it. Many alarms are available on the high street. But you can often buy them directly from registered engineers.

    Look for an alarm that carries the EN 50291 standard and the British Standards Kitemark. Do not buy an alarm that doesn’t meet these standards.

    Carbon monoxide - Be Alarmed! campaign

    There is lots of help out there to stay safe.
    The Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed! Campaign is run by Energy UK on behalf of Britain's six major gas and electricity companies and is supported by more than 40 other organisations.
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