Do the stores stock carbon monoxide alarms?

Domestic carbon monoxide poisoning can be prevented by the use of household carbon monoxide alarms. These days these are several types of alarm available in the local shops. It is the accumulation of carbon monoxide in an area that sets of your detector. Smoke detectors have become a standard feature in homes and the technology is reliable, CO detectors are not yet as reliable but the technology is making rapid strides. You should always ensure you have a proper maintenance schedule for your appliances, having a carbon monoxide detector does not enable you to save on regular appliance servicing.

When I buy a detector what should I look for?

Ensure that the detector you get is certified to British Standards and has a loud alarm. Such alarms have long lasting batteries (5 years) and the alarm is triggered when abnormal levels of carbon monoxide are detected enabling people to escape the area. You should avoid the cheaper detectors which have a coloured spot which will change in colour when high carbon monoxide levels are detected. Chemical CO detectors loose their effectiveness after 6 months and have to be changed, this increases the lifetime cost and puts you at risk if you forget to change the detector when it has expired. The lack of the audible alarm in a chemical detector means that this type of alarm cannot alert you at night when you are asleep. You can purchase both types of alarms from the local DIY shop.

Installing a carbon monoxide detector

Without an installed carbon monoxide detector your family would have no warning of rising CO levels in the room. Properly installed detectors monitor carbon monoxide levels over time and are designed to sound an alarm before an average, healthy adult would experience symptoms of poisoning. Smoke detectors are installed near the ceiling as smoke rises, this is not true of carbon monoxide and hence these detectors can be installed lower on the wall. For maximum effectiveness during sleeping hours, carbon monoxide detectors should be placed close to sleeping areas.

Check your carbon monoxide detectors frequently

As with all safety equipment a detector should be tested throughout the year to make sure that it is working effectively. The manufacturer’s instructions should give you the outline of how to test or service the detector. A detector should be checked at least once per month to confirm it is working properly, if it fails replace it with a new detector without delay. The ‘test’ feature on many detectors checks the functioning of the alarm and not the status of the detector. Read the instructions for the lifespan of the detector, often it is as short as two years. There are a variety of detectors designed to meet differing needs. Some operate off the mains others are portable and can be taken on holiday. Select the one that meets your requirements. To save space there are combination smoke and CO detectors sold, you should check the manufacturer installation instructions for how to install these.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide is one of the most poisonous gases and it is undetectable with no smell or taste. This gas can be produced when a boiler is operating with too little oxygen supply provided to the combustion chamber. The lack of oxygen means that Carbon Monoxide is produced rather than the less dangerous Carbon Dioxide. With high standards of boiler servicing and strict ventilation regulations the number of people killed by Carbon Monoxide has reduced to 30 people each year although many more are seriously injured.

What are the dangers associated with Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer so be do not delay if you see any warning signs. It is easy to read about carbon monoxide symptoms and convince yourself that it is not applicable to your situation, protect your health and seek professional advice. Be decisive and look after your household straight away. Carbon monoxide poisoning strikes at all age groups, not just the old or infirm. It is common for pets to be harmed in the same way as humans.

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

Carbon Monoxide poisoning exhibits symptoms which can appear like other illnesses, for example: –
* regular incidences of headaches
* balance problems
* weariness
* urge to vomit

If you notice symptoms such as these when you have gas appliances in the home, stop using the appliance without delay, increase ventilation to the rooms, take any inhabitants outside and ensure that your gas appliances are inspected by a CORGI registered gas engineer.

What should I do to protect myself and my family from carbon monoxide poisoning ?

Bad ventilation resulting in lack of oxygen leads to the production of poisonous carbon monoxide. Assuming that a ventilation audit of your proposed installation was completed before your boiler was fitted the best defence to this is the regular and expert servicing of any gas appliances that you have including your boiler. Any engineer you contract to service your gas appliances should be CORGI-registered which will ensure that they have the training required to complete the task to the required standards. Fitting a carbon monoxide detector with an audible alarm is also a valuable investment to provide early warning of potential carbon monoxide poisoning. You should also keep air vents in doors, walls or windows clear – never cover them up to prevent draughts. On several occasions ventilation reviews have discovered air vents which have been blocked by fast growing plants and you should look for this throughout the growing season. If your home has a chimney to provide appliance ventilation look out for birds nests in the spring as the creation of a nest in a chimney which is not being used in the warm weather could completely block the ventilation when required in the winter. It is important to be aware of the different sounds from your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. In an emergency you need to be are aware of the different sounds so you know which detector was triggered.

What will I see if I have a carbon monoxide issue in my home?

Gas combustion in an oxygen poor atmosphere can produce visible deposits which can discolour gas appliances and the walls surrounding them. Inspecting gas pilot lights can give early warning of a lack of oxygen in the boiler as the colour of the pilot light may change from blue to yellow. Treat the pilot light like a traffic light, if it turns yellow this is a warning and you should arrange for the boiler to be serviced as quickly as you can.

Comments are closed.