Carbon monoxide is a dangerous gas that kills dozens of people every year in the UK.
But what exactly is it? Why is it so dangerous? And how can you prevent it from causing you harm?
Read our guide to find out everything you need to know about carbon monoxide.
What Is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas that is produced when you burn fossil fuels like coal, oil, wood or gas.
It’s often called the ‘silent killer’ because it has no colour, odour or taste. You could breathe it in without knowing it and then start to feel ill without knowing what’s wrong. If you continue to breathe it in, it can be fatal.
In fact, carbon monoxide poisoning causes dozens of deaths each year, and many more hospitalisations.
When you breathe in CO, it gets into your bloodstream and prevents oxygen from being transported properly around your body.
You only realise you are suffering from CO poisoning when you experience the symptoms. These include a headache, drowsiness, loss of breath and nausea. After long enough, you can lose consciousness and die.
CO poisoning can affect anyone, but children and the elderly are particularly at risk.
How to Prevent Exposure to Carbon Monoxide
The easiest way to prevent exposure to carbon monoxide is to make sure your gas appliances are working properly, as well as any other appliances in your home that burn fuels like oil or coal.
Get a Gas Safe engineer to service all your devices every year to make sure they are working correctly.
Don’t use gasoline-powered engines indoors like generators or charcoal grills, and ensure all stoves and fireplaces are vented. If they are not, don’t burn anything in them.
If you use your chimney, get it inspected every year and swept.
Finally, always use a professional when installing new devices. If a device is badly fitted, it could present a serious risk.
The Importance of a CO Alarm
While getting your devices serviced regularly is important, you should always have a CO alarm in your home, in every room which has an appliance as well as in every principle habitable room which a flue passes through.
Some people think that because they have a smoke alarm they don’t need a CO alarm, but this is not correct. This is because both alarms detect smoke and CO in different ways. However, some dual alarms can detect both smoke and CO, so these can be a good option.
Get Your Gas Appliances Checked Regularly
As mentioned, along with having a CO detector fitted one of the best ways to prevent CO poisoning is to ensure your gas appliances are all in good working order.
Get them serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer and keep you and your family safe from carbon monoxide.