Carbon Monoxide - The Silent Killer

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless, poisonous gas. It is produced when carbon-based fuels fail to burn properly. Carbon-based fuels include gas, oil, wood and coal. You can’t see it, taste it, or smell it but it can kill quickly and without warning.

What Are The Symptoms of CO Poisoning?

CO poisoning can be difficult to detect because the symptoms are the same as other common ailments. Sometimes you may feel as though you have food poisoning or that you are coming down with the flu. You may notice that others in the same property have similar symptoms at the same time. Symptoms can include:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach Pains
  • Vomiting
  • Breathlessness
  • Tiredness
  • Visual problems
  • Dizziness
  • Erratic behaviour
  • Headaches
  • Pains in the chest
  • Drowsiness
  • Collapse and loss of consciousness

CO can also have severe effects to the foetus of pregnant women.

Play it Safe

If you are suffering from any of the symptoms listed or your CO detector alerts you then GET FRESH AIR IMMEDIATELY - open doors and windows, turn off combustion and cooking appliances and leave your home.

SEEK MEDICAL ADVICE IMMEDIATELY if you believe you are suffering from CO poisoning. Long term exposure to low levels of CO can lead to depression, confusion and memory loss.

How Can I Protect Myself from CO Poisoning?

  • Fit an audible CO alarm that meets European Standard EN 50291 and carries a British or European trademark, such as a Kitemark.
  • Have your appliances serviced regularly.
  • Have all appliances, flues and chimneys correctly installed and serviced by trained, reputable, registered and competent engineers – do not attempt to do this yourself.

Useful contact numbers:

Gas Safe Register: 0800 408 5500

Gas Emergency: 0800 111 999

HSE Gas Safety Line: 0800 300 363

Hetas (Solid fuel): 0845 634 5626

OFTEC (oil): 0845 658 5080

NHS Direct: 0845 4647

Or contact your local authority environmental health officer for further advice.