In a survey for the Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed! campaign, 81 per cent of people knew that carbon monoxide can kill. Despite this, only 39 per cent said that they have a carbon monoxide alarm. Of those without a carbon monoxide alarm, 42 per cent said this was because they have a smoke alarm, indicating a high level of confusion between the two types of alarms. As carbon monoxide can seep through walls, people need an alarm even if they have regularly serviced appliances, and even if they have no fuel burning appliances as neighbouring homes may have.
Carbon monoxide alarms are available from many DIY stores, supermarkets, high street shops or directly from energy suppliers. They can cost as little as £15.
Key steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning
- Fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm. It should meet European standard EN50291. Carbon Monoxide alarms are a similar size to smoke alarms and only take a few minutes to fit. They need to be put in a central location in the house and can be fixed to the wall or can be placed on a table, bookshelf or shelf.
- Have fuel-burning appliances serviced annually by an appropriately qualified and registered engineer.
- Don’t block ventilation and have chimneys swept at least once a year.
- Know the main symptoms: headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapsing and loss of consciousness. Keys signs are if symptoms clear up when you are away from home and come back when you return, or if other people in your household experience similar symptoms.
- Watch out for soot or yellow/brown staining on or around your appliance, a lazy yellow / orange coloured gas flame rather than a sharp blue one or pilot lights which blow out frequently.