Exposure to Carbon Monoxide (CO) poses a risk to your health and can be fatal. Despite this, around 16.4 million households in the UK don’t have an audible carbon monoxide detector fitted in their home, and many aren’t even aware they exist.
We’ve gathered the facts about why it’s essential to have a CO alarm in your home from the experts at Kidde Safety….
What Is Carbon Monoxide?
It’s an odourless, tasteless and colourless gas, so it’s almost impossible to identify without a detector.
Where Does It Come From?
Carbon monoxide is produced as a result of incomplete combustion –meaning that the fuel in your boiler, gas oven or other household appliances is not being burned properly
When the fuel is burnt properly it produces carbon dioxide, however if the appliance has not been properly fitted or maintained, it can form carbon monoxide instead. This can also occur if a vent, chimney or flue is blocked.
Although gas appliances are most commonly associated with carbon monoxide, any appliance that burns a carbon-based fuel could potentially be a source of CO.
Why Is It Dangerous?
Carbon monoxide kills over 50 people in the UK each year, and around 600 people per year are admitted to hospital for CO poisoning. Even exposure to a small amount of CO over a period of time can be cause symptoms which will range from headaches and vomiting to confusion and changes in personality.
How Can I Tell If I Have CO Poisoning?
Symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness and fatigue. Prolonged exposure can lead to coma and even death. The symptoms of CO poisoning can mimic those of gastroenteritis or flu, so it may not be immediately identified without an alarm.
How Can I Guard Against CO Poisoning?
- Buy a Carbon Monoxide Detector that carries the BSI Kitemark.
- All fuel-burning appliances, such as your boiler or gas oven, should be serviced by a qualified appliance installer every 12 months.
- If you have an appliance that uses coal and/or natural gases, these should have their flues and chimneys swept regularly to identify and deal with any blockages.
- Never use your cooker to heat up your kitchen! A hob that isn’t vented can give off carbon monoxide.
- Make sure that any vents in your home are kept clear – these can sometimes be wallpapered over by previous tenants.
- Consider your safety even when you’re when away from home. If you don’t have a CO Detector when caravanning, camping, at a holiday cottage, student accomodation etc. you could still be susceptible to CO poisoning.
Why Do I Need a Smoke Alarm AND a CO Alarm?
Carbon monoxide is totally different to smoke produced by a house fire. A smoke alarm will only alert you if there is a fire or smoke in your home. A CO detector will tell you if there is a presence of dangerous carbon monoxide in your house so that you can respond accordingly.
What Do I Do If My CO Alarm Goes Off?
- Turn off any gas or fuel-burning appliances immediately.
- Ventilate the building by opening doors windows to let fresh air in and CO gas out.
- Contact a qualified technician to fix the problem appliance – don’t use it again until it has been repaired.
- If you or anyone else experiences the symptoms mentioned above, move them to somewhere with fresh air and seek urgent medical advice.
Keep your home and your family protected with Carbon Monoxide Detectors available from our Kidde Safety Shop.