Safety - preventing carbon monoxide poisoning - Better Lives Healthy Futures

Safety – preventing carbon monoxide poisoning

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Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas. Known as the Silent Killer it has no colour, smell or taste.
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Breathing in carbon monoxide gas can make you unwell. High levels can kill. Babies and children are more at risk than adults.

Faulty or badly serviced gas or other fossil fuel-burning appliances and systems can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s important to be aware of warning signs – such as your boiler pilot light flames burning orange instead of blue; sooty stains on or near appliances; excessive condensation in the room; coal or wood fires that burn slowly or go out.

Low-level exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) over a long period can cause brain and neurological damage. Symptoms of mild carbon monoxide poisoning are headaches, dizziness, sore throat, dry cough and nausea, all of which could easily be confused with viral cold and flu infections, food poisoning or general tiredness.

Top tips to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning

Have your gas appliances checked and serviced every year – by a gas engineer registered with the Gas Safe Register. This is your responsibility is you are a homeowner. If you rent a property it is your landlord’s responsibility.

Fit a Carbon Monoxide detector with an audible alarm in all rooms where there are carbon burning appliances. Test them regularly and make sure they are within their expiry date. Early detection can save lives.

Have flues checked and chimneys swept regularly by a registered sweep – blocked chimneys or flues can also cause carbon monoxide to enter the home.

Carbon monoxide can come through walls – has your neighbour had their appliances services and chimney swept?

Pack a CO alarm in your suitcase when staying away from home.

Search ‘safety’ or see the hot topics and further information sections below for more information on keeping your child safe.

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Further information

Carbon monoxide safety advice

General information about carbon monoxide from the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents.

Carbon monoxide safety when camping or caravaning

Specific information about carbon monoxide if you're holidaying in a tent, caravan or motorhome.

Carbon monoxide safety on boats

Boats keep water out which makes them good containers for gases and fumes. Find out how to stay safe on a boat.