Carbon Monoxide Alarms
What is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Carbon monoxide has the nickname ‘the silent killer’, this is because this poisonous gas has no smell and no taste to it so if there is a leak in your home it may be hard to tell. Carbon monoxide enters your blood stream and mixes with the haemoglobin, part of your red blood cells and reacts to form carboxyhaemoglobin. This prevents the blood from being able to carry oxygen around the body, causing cells and tissue to die.
What causes Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Carbon monoxide poisoning is caused when appliances that are fueled by gas, oil, coal or wood do not burn fully. If appliances in the home aren’t installed and maintained properly such as cookers and boilers it has a higher chance of producing carbon monoxide gasses. Gas fires, central heating systems, water heaters, unmaintained chimneys and open fires.
How to prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning!
It is vital that your appliances that burn fuels are properly installed and maintained by a professional, such as a Gas Safe Engineer. Further tips to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning in your home include:
- Never use your gas ranges or ovens to heat your home
- Do not use oversized pots on your stove
- Do not leave petrol-fuelled cars, lawnmowers, trimmers etc. running inside you garage
- Check you cars exhaust for blockages and leaks
- Ensure there is sufficient ventilation in your home to allow air to flow
- Avoid using gas-powered equipment inside your home
- Do not light a BBQ indoors (this includes tents see our camping safety blog here)
- Do not sleep in a room with a paraffin heater or unflued gas fire
- Fit an extractor fan in your kitchen and regularly maintain it
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Carbon monoxide alarms are relatively cheap and easy to install. Having a carbon monoxide alarm in your home is vital and will put your mind at ease as it will alert you when it detects the gas from a leak. When looking for a carbon monoxide alarm ensure that it is approved to British or European Standard (BS Kitemark or EN50291).
We found this Kidde Carbon Monoxide Alarm for under £10 on Amazon
Kidde recommends that you place a carbon monoxide alarm in every room with a fuel burning appliance such as in your kitchen near the kitchen hobs and boiler as well as your living room if you have an open fire as well as on each floor of your home including the basement.
You should also consider placing a carbon monoxide detector in every bedroom and inside your garage if it is connected to your home.
What to do if you suspect a Carbon Monoxide leak
If you suspect a carbon monoxide leak or your carbon monoxide alarm has sounded you should complete the following steps immediately:
- Stop using all appliances, turn them off and open all windows and doors to ventilate your home
- Evacuate your home into fresh air and try to remain calm
- Call the gas emergency number on 0800 111 999 to report the incident. Alternatively, call the Gas Safety Advice Line on 0800 300 363
- Seek medical attention, even if you feel well
- Do not go back inside your home until you have the go ahead from the gas professionals
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning aren’t always obvious the NHS reports and many symptoms match a whole host of other illnesses. The most common symptom however include:
- A tension-type headache
- Stomach pains
- Shortness of breath
It may be hard to tell whether you have carbon monoxide poisoning from these symptoms as they are much like having the flu. You should be more suspicious of carbon monoxide poisoning if:
- Other house members are ill with similar symptoms
- Your symptoms ease or disappear when you are away for long periods at a time, such as on holiday
- Pets also fall ill
- Your symptoms are seasonal and seem to occur worse when the heating is on
- Sooty or yellowish stains around the boiler, stove or fire
- Yellow instead of blue flames coming from gas appliances
- Pilot lights frequently going out
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If you found our carbon monoxide guide informative why not check out our other home security and safety advice in our Home Security Guide!