What is carbon monoxide poisoning?

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that you can’t see, smell or taste, it can be difficult to detect. Every year, around 30 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning – and many more fall sick. When a gas appliance has been incorrectly fitted, badly repaired or poorly maintained, CO may begin to leak due to the incomplete burning of natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). It can also occur if flues, chimneys or vents are blocked.

The carbon monoxide replaces the oxygen in your bloodstream when you inhale it. Without oxygen, your body tissue and cells die. Even small amounts of the gas can cause CO poisoning, and the long-term effects can include brain damage and paralysis.

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

The six main symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are:
  •     Headaches
  •     Dizziness
  •     Nausea
  •     Breathlessness
  •     Collapse
  •     Loss of consciousness
Many of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to those of flu, food poisoning, viral infections, or simple tiredness.
Other warning signs that could suggest carbon monoxide poisoning include symptoms that only occur when you are at home and disappear or get better when you leave the home and come back when you return. Also if others in your household (including your pets) are experiencing similar symptoms this may also be a red flag.

How can I tell if my gas appliance is leaking carbon monoxide?

Danger signs to look out for around gas and other fuel-burning appliances include:
  • Look for strains, soot or discolouration on (or around) your boiler, fire or water heater.
  • Make sure there are no blockages in your chimney or flue.
  • Keep the air vents in your doors, walls and windows clear.
  • Check the pilot light on your boiler (and any other gas flames that normally burn blue). If the flame is yellow or orange, you might have a carbon monoxide leak.
  • Use a carbon monoxide detector, you can buy these online and they are quite inexpensive.

What should I do if I think my appliance is spilling carbon monoxide?

If an appliance in your property is spilling carbon monoxide, take the following actions to ensure the safety of yourself and your property.
  • Switch off the appliance and do not re-use until remedial action has been taken.
  • For gas appliances: Call Gas Emergency Freephone Number 0800 111 999.
  • For oil burning appliances: Call Often 0845 658 5080.
  • For solid fuel burning appliances: Call HETAS 0845 634 5626.
  • Open all doors and windows to ventilate the room – do not sleep in it.
  • Visit your GP urgently and tell him/ her that you believe your symptoms may be related to carbon monoxide poisoning and request either a blood and/ or breath sample.

To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home: 

  • Schedule annual checkups and maintenance on your boiler, gas appliances and fireplace (if you use it).
  • Keep vents clear.
  • Fit carbon monoxide alarms and make sure they are maintained.
1st Call Gas can help you keep your gas appliances and boiler repaired and maintained. We can also keep your fireplace and flue lining in working order which will help to prevent carbon monoxide build up if you use your fireplace and chimney. We offer Maintenance Monthly plans which start at just £7 per month. It’s important to use a company that are on the gas safety register, we’re gas safe registered and permitted to legally and safely in the UK. Give us a call on  0114 272 2586 for more information.