What is CO Poisoning?
What is Carbon Monoxide CO poisoning?
Unsafe gas appliances can produce a highly poisonous gas called carbon monoxide (CO). It can cause death as well as serious long term health problems such as brain damage.
CO is produced by the incomplete burning of natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). This happens when a gas appliance has been incorrectly fitted, badly repaired or poorly maintained. It can also occur if flues, chimneys or vents are blocked.
Oil and solid fuels such as coal, wood, petrol and oil can also produce carbon monoxide.
CO poisoning occurs when you breathe in the gas and it replaces oxygen in your bloodstream. Without oxygen, your body tissue and cells die. Even small amounts of the gas can cause CO poisoning, and long term effects can include paralysis and brain damage.
Remember the six main symptoms to look out for:
- loss of consciousness
Being aware of the symptoms could save your life
CO symptoms are similar to those of flu, food poisoning, viral infections and fatigue. That’s why it’s quite common for people to mistake this very dangerous poisoning for something else.
Other signs that could point to CO poisoning:
Your symptoms only occur when you are at home and seem to disappear when you leave home.
Others in your household (including pets) are experiencing similar symptoms and they appear at a similar time.
What to do if you suspect CO poisoning
Get fresh air immediately. Open doors and windows, turn off gas appliances and leave the house.
See your doctor immediately or go to hospital – let them know that you suspect CO poisoning. They can do a blood or breath test to check.
If you think there is an immediate danger, call the Ambulance or Fire Brigade 111.
If you are unsure. Head the above advice and then call and book into have your Gas Installation checked with a Gas Safety Check
The warning signs of a CO leak
Any of the following could be a sign of CO in your home:
Flames of a lazy yellow or orange colour on your gas hob, rather than being a crisp blue;
Dark staining on/around appliances;
Pilot lights that frequently blow out;
Increased condensation inside windows.
Faulty appliances in your home can lead to CO poisoning. Get your gas appliances checked regularly to avoid this.
What can you do about it?
Our advice is clear: the first and best thing you can do to minimise the risk that your gas appliances produce CO is to ensure that they are safety checked annually by a suitably competent and qualified Certified Gas Fitter.
If you already have a service plan then an annual check may be included as part of that, check the details.
An audible CO alarm will activate in the presence of CO. It’s a good second line of defence, but can only tell you when something has already gone wrong.