The colourless, odourless and tasteless poisonous gas that could be in your home
5th February 2015
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Most of us have heard of carbon monoxide. You can't see it, taste it or smell it but it can kill quickly and with no warning. Sadly, carbon monoxide deaths are frequently reported on news channels, from adults to new born babies, and we want this silent killer to be stopped. We've compiled some friendly and informative advice on how to prevent, diagnose and treat carbon monoxide poisoning.

In the UK, 85% of people have a smoke alarm but only 15% a carbon monoxide alarm, yet carbon monoxide is a silent killer and not only causes death but can cause long term illness.

Carbon monoxide can travel through walls. This means, if you live or work in a block of flats, terraced houses or large commercial buildings, you are at risk of breathing in the toxic gas.

The gas is produced by incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels, including gas, oil, wood and coal, all of which are common features found in all homes and work places.

According to the Department of Health, each year in England and Wales, there are approximately 50 accidental deaths, 200 non-fatal poisonings that require hospital admission and 4,000 visits to A&E that result from CO poisoning. Children and older people are particularly at risk.

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

Early symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can mimic many common ailments and may easily be confused with food poisoning, viral infections, flu or simple tiredness. Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Headaches
  • Breathlessness
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Collapse
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Tiredness
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Pains in the chest
  • Stomach pains
  • Erratic behaviour
  • Visual problems

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Install an audible Carbon Monoxide Alarm in your home. The sensing technology in a carbon monoxide detector accurately measures the levels of CO and the time of exposure, and is designed to sound before carbon monoxide levels become threatening.

Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed in every room that contains a fuel burning appliance. You can install them in other rooms to ensure adequate warning is given for occupants in other areas of your home - such as in rooms where people sleep.

Most audible CO alarms are battery operated, so you can take them with you if you move home or go on holiday. They last 5-7 years. Audible alarms typically cost around £20, and can be bought at DIY stores, plumbing & heating shops or online. They can also be installed by your energy supplier.

What other preventative measures can I take?

When was the last time your boiler was serviced? Ensuring that your gas appliances are installed and regularly serviced by Gas Safe Registered engineers is the first step to safety within your home. Landlords are legally obliged to have an annual gas safety check completed in every property they let - and should provide tenants with a copy of the certificate.

There is a wealth of information about preventative measures, diagnosis and treatment of CO poisoning on the internet. Here are some particularly useful websites:

This blog has been written in aid of The Katie Haines Memorial Trust. Katie Haines died tragically of accidental Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning at her home, just two months after her wedding.

Since then, Katie's family have made it their mission to raise awareness of carbon monoxide poisoning and have recently taken the issue to the House of Commons. Please visit their website here, which contains life saving information and more about the charity, here

About the Author

Andrew M

Member since: 10th July 2012

The Best of Wimbledon and Merton helps to bring all the best local information to all local residents and businesses throughout Wimbledon and Merton. We also bring trusted businesses and the community...

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