Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas and, as such, it is very difficult to detect and can easily be inhaled without you realising. Being exposed to high concentration levels can kill quickly and without warning. According to NHS statistics, every year in the UK more than 200 people go to hospital with suspected carbon monoxide poisoning, and around 40 people die. The effects can also include other severe long term health risks such as brain damage. The symptoms The main effects to look out for are:
• Loss of consciousness
These symptoms are very easy to mistake for flu, food poisoning, viral infections and simply tiredness, but carbon monoxide is potentially far more dangerous. If your symptoms only occur at home and they disappear or get better when you leave home, then this may indicate a carbon monoxide leak. Also, if other members of your household suffer from similar symptoms at the same time this could also indicate a leak.
The most common cause of a carbon monoxide leak is from incorrectly installed or poorly maintained household appliances – such as cookers, heaters and central heating boilers. A blocked flue or chimney can also cause carbon monoxide levels to rise to lethal concentrations in an enclosed space. The danger zones According to information released by the Health and Safety Executive, in the last three years, an estimated one in six homes inspected by the Gas Safe Register has been found to have an unsafe gas appliance and one in 11 has an unsafe boiler. A badly fitted or maintained boiler, or one with a blocked or leaky flue, is a serious hazard to you and your family. If left unchecked, this can result in carbon monoxide poisoning, fires and even explosions. Likewise, gas appliances such as cookers and fires are all potential risks for a carbon monoxide leak. This is why you should always ensure all gas appliances are installed by a Gas Safe registered engineer and you regularly inspect your boiler for signs of wear and tear. Some of the warning signs to look out for on your gas appliance or boiler are.
• The flame should be crisp and blue. Yellow or orange flames means it should be checked
• Dark, sooty staining surrounding it
• The flame frequently going out
• Increased condensation inside windows
What to do if you think you have a carbon monoxide leak
If you suspect you or anyone in your house has inhaled carbon monoxide, it is important that you get fresh air immediately. Turn off the appliance and leave the house. If you think you are in danger, ring the National Gas Emergency Helpline on 0800 111 999. You should seek medical attention as soon as possible – visit your GP or go to the hospital as soon as possible – let them know that you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning. If you know you have a leak, don’t attempt to fix this yourself. You need to have a Gas Safe registered engineer to inspect your gas appliances or flues to see if there is a dangerous problem. Aztec Gas are there to ensure you get the highest possible quality service and your home is kept completely safe. We will perform a thorough service on your boiler and gas supply, including several tests and checks to ensure that the appliance is operating safely.
Why should you get a carbon monoxide alarm?
As carbon monoxide is completely undetectable by smell or taste, it is vital for you and your family’s safety that you have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted in your home. You are particularly at risk when sleeping so it is essential you use an audible variety that is capable of waking you. They can be purchased from your local DIY store or supermarket and are easily installed and checked following the manufacturer’s instructions. They work as an early warning system similar to a smoke detector and can be easily taken with you on camping trips or caravan holidays. Maintaining your carbon monoxide alarm CO alarms can save lives but they also have a life of their own, which means you’ll need to replace yours every 5-7 years. Regularly checking your batteries are in working order will make sure that you know your alarm is keeping you and your family safe until it’s time to replace it.