Carbon Monoxide in your home or business can be highly dangerous if left to leak out of faulty or ill-fitted appliances. See below advice on how to spot risks of Carbon Monoxide and how to keep you and your family out of danger.
Recognise the early symptoms
Recognising the early symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning will save your life. The symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning are similar to the ‘flu’. They can include:
- Stomach pains
- Chest pains
If you experience these symptoms but feel better when you are outside or away from the appliance, you could be suffering from Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
Our blood has a component called haemoglobin, which normally absorbs oxygen in our lungs and carries it to the rest of the body. But haemoglobin absorbs Carbon Monoxide 240 times more easily than it does oxygen.
So, when we inhale Carbon Monoxide from the air, it is this toxic gas, rather than oxygen that attaches itself to the haemoglobin, starving the body of oxygen. The smaller the person, the more quickly the body can be overcome by the effects of Carbon Monoxide.
Severe Carbon Monoxide poisoning makes the body turn a cherry-red colour. Unlike a lack of oxygen due to choking for example, the body does not turn blue. Instead, the victim’s skin will be pink or pale with bright red lips.
Carbon Monoxide poisoning can affect the victim’s mental ability before they are even aware that there is a problem. Any effort that increases the body’s need for oxygen only makes the problem worse, rapidly leading to collapse and potentially death.
Spot the signs around your appliances
Learn how to spot the signs of a Carbon Monoxide leak around your appliance. Fortunately, although you can’t see or smell Carbon Monoxide it’s easy to identify signs that indicate there may be a strong risk of it being produced. Simply look at your gas or heating appliances.
Danger signs include:
- Sooting or staining on or around your appliance
- Excessive condensation in the room where the appliance is installed
- Lazy yellow / orange coloured flames
Carbon Monoxide can also be present in smoke from solid fuel or oil appliances. If you are using a gas appliance that should have a crisp blue flame, such as a pilot light, look out for changes. If it turns to a lazy orange flame, the appliance may not be working correctly.
You are at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if:
- Your appliance was incorrectly or badly installed
- Your appliance is not working properly and efficiently
- Your appliance has not been safety checked and serviced annually
- There is not enough fresh air in the room due to blocked vents or chimneys and flues
- Your chimney or flue is blocked or has not been swept regularly
- You allow untrained or individuals not qualified for the fuel or appliance to install or maintain your appliances
- There is no audible CO alarm fitted and working in your home
Why you should get your appliances checked annually
Appliances that are properly installed and serviced and have sufficient ventilation are usually efficient and safe.
To avoid the production of Carbon Monoxide and to make sure you and your family are safe you must have all your fuel-burning appliances safety checked annually by the relevant professional for your fuel type - either a CORGI, HETAS or OFTEC registered installer.
Make sure rooms and heaters are well ventilated and not blocked to stop draughts or to dry clothes.
- Have your chimneys and flues checked regularly
- Get a Carbon Monoxide alarm for the house
You increase the risk of your appliance producing Carbon Monoxide if it is badly installed or poorly maintained.
If you have a solid fuel appliance you should empty and check the ash can daily, clean the flue ways at the back of the boiler weekly and clean the throat plates at the top of the room heater monthly.
If you live in rented accommodation with gas appliances your landlord must provide you with proof that a CORGI registered installer has safety-checked the appliances within the last 12 months.
Chimneys should be swept regularly depending on the type of fuel and if used daily this could mean upto 2
or 3 times a year, but all chimneys should be swept