Carbon Monoxide – the silent killer

Carbon Monoxide fumes have no colour, taste or smell and can be produced by appliances using gas, wood, oil, coal or smokeless fuel. Carbon Monoxide is potentially fatal, and even low-levels can cause lasting damage to your health.

You must have your solid fuel or wood burning appliance safety-checked annually by a registered competent person for solid fuel and wood appliances. 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 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. Have your chimney swept at least once a year if burning smokeless fuel or at least twice a year if using wood or bituminous coal.

Blocking ventilation or misusing your appliance can lead to Carbon Monoxide poisoning. You should have your chimney swept at least once a year, preferably before each winter.

Recognising the early symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning could save your life
The symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning are similar to the ‘flu’; nausea, dizziness, tiredness, headaches, stomach and 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.

If you suspect a Carbon Monoxide leak, stop using the appliance until it has been checked by a competent engineer. You should open windows to ventilate the area, leave the room to get some fresh air and seek medical advice.

Fit an audible Carbon Monoxide alarm
Carbon Monoxide alarms need to meet European safety standards and must be audible. An alarm should be fitted in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Note: an alarm is no substitute for regular maintenance and chimney sweeping.


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