For you and your family's safety, it is advisable to fit a carbon monoxide alarm in each room in your home that has a gas appliance or solid fuel heating.
Below we answer some frequently asked questions about carbon monoxide (CO), carbon monoxide alarms (co alarms) and what to do if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous gas produced by the incomplete burning of natural gas, liquid petroleum gas (LPG), oil, wood, coal or petrol. It can occur when appliances have been incorrectly fitted, poorly maintained, badly repaired or when vents, chimneys and flues are blocked.
Carbon monoxide is colourless, tasteless and has no odour, making it very difficult to detect without a carbon monoxide detector.
The most common symptoms of mild carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, nausea and feeling tired or confused - in fact, very similar symptoms to those of flu.
However, if you find your symptoms improve or go away when you are away from home, and get worse when you return, and if everyone else in the home, including pets, has the same symptoms, you may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning and should see your GP immediately.
In severe cases, it can quickly cause collapse and loss of consciousness, long term damage and even death.
Carbon monoxide detectors, also known as CO alarms, work in a similar way to smoke alarms. If carbon monoxide is present in your home, the detector will beep loudly to warn you of the danger.
We recommend the use of an audible carbon monoxide detector, rather than one that just changes colour, because it will alert you straightaway and wake you if you are asleep. The alarm should be marked with British Standard EN 50291, and a British or European approval mark such as the Kitemark.
Your carbon monoxide detector could save your and your family’s lives, so it is vital you install them in the best place to protect you from this poisonous gas.
Before you install your carbon monoxide alarm, be sure to read the user manual to find out how to install, test and service the alarm. Take careful note of when the batteries should be replaced.
Here are some do’s and don’ts on where to place a carbon monoxide detector:
Once your carbon monoxide alarms have been installed, test them regularly by pressing the test button (refer to the user manual) and replace the batteries as soon as the ‘low battery’ signal beeps.
Your gas appliances, including your boiler, oven, hob and gas fire, should be serviced annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer, in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, to ensure they are working safely and efficiently. It's rather like giving your car an annual service to make sure it is safe to drive.
An annual service is a good way to check everything is working correctly, and can help to reduce the risk of breakdowns and potential safety hazards. During the service, your Gas Safe engineer will check to make sure the gas is burning properly, that all the seals are intact and that flues or chimneys are not blocked or leaking.