Carbon Monoxide is highly toxic and cannot be smelled or tasted. This gas can be produced when a boiler is operating with too little oxygen supply provided to the combustion chamber. Carbon Dioxide is the normal output from a boiler but this can be replaced by Carbon Monoxide with reduced ventilation or a blocked flue. Following the adoption of regular boiler servicing and regulations governing ventilation levels deaths from Carbon Monoxide have been held at 30 per annum although there are many more injuries from poisoning.

What are the risks with CO poisoning?

Act quickly and be very cautious if there are any signs of carbon monoxide inhalation in your family. 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. Take action today and ensure you are able to take action tomorrow. Carbon monoxide poisoning can affect anyone irregardless of age. This also applies to household pets.

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can often be confused with other flu like illnesses and include:-
* headaches which occur daily
* balance problems
* extreme tiredness
* billiousness

A CORGI certified gas engineer should be brought in to inspect your gas appliances if you notice these symptoms in your family. Whilst waiting for the engineer to arrive you should ensure that you have opened the windows and everyone has left the house.

What actions can I take to reduce the chances of Carbon Monoxide poisoning?

The underlying cause of carbon monoxide production is lack of ventilation to a gas flame. Checking the components of the exhaust gases should be a standard part of a gas appliance maintenance visit from a trained engineer and this will give early warning of any ventilation issues. Make sure your central heating boiler is maintained annually by a CORGI-registered engineer. Carbon monoxide detectors can give a warning of abnormal carbon monoxide levels, models with a loud alarm are the most effective at warning the inhabitants of the home. Air ventilation bricks and panels should be kept clear and checked throughout the year to make sure that the planned air flow is maintained to your gas appliances. Gas appliances and boilers may not be used in the summer months but air vents can become obstructed at this time through the growth of plants and vegetation in the garden, this is a potential problem which you should keep in mind. Chimney ventilation can become obstructed in the summer by a birds nest and you may not notice id a fire is not used in the summer so a visual inspection should be incorporated in your home maintenance plans. Know the difference between the sound of smoke alarms and CO alarms. If the CO detector alarm goes off make sure it is your CO detector and not your smoke detector.

Will looking at my gas appliances show me I have a carbon monoxide problem?

If you see stains, soot or coloration on or near gas boilers, fires and water heaters this could indicate that you have a potential problem. 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. If the flame changes from blue to yellow or orange this could mean that carbon monoxide is present and you should have the appliance inspected by a professional.

Can the general public purchase carbon monoxide detectors?

Accumulated exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to death and CO detectors can give early warning of carbon monoxide production in the home. You know have a choice of detector types and most of these are available in the shops or online. CO detectors track the accumulation of carbon monoxide over time and are triggered at a predetermined level. 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. Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors can be used as a backup but not as a replacement for proper use and maintenance of your fuel-burning appliances.

What are the features of a good detector?

Good quality carbon monoxide detectors have a loud alarm and are certified to British Standards. Look for a very loud alarm and 5 year battery life as minimum requirements in a CO detector. Battery powered models with electronic detection are better than the paper based models which use chemical reactions to show a spot on a cardboard detector that changes colour when carbon monoxide levels have increased. With a colour change detector you may forget to replace the detector when it has expired after 6 months creating a risk. Also the lack of an alarm means that you may not be made aware of a problem in the critical early hours. Audible alarms are a significant advantage if CO levels rise at night as the noise will wake you and your family. Both types of alarms are now commonly available in DIY stores.

Installing a carbon monoxide detector

Early warning of heightened CO levels provided by installing a carbon monoxide detector can ensure that fatalities do not occur. 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. Carbon monoxide detectors are different to smoke detectors and do not need to be installed high on the wall or near the ceiling. When selecting a location to install your carbon monoxide detector ensure that the alarm will be heard when you are asleep in your bedroom. The alarm must be able to wake you in the middle of the night.

Test your CO Detectors

A detector should be tested several times each the year to make certain that it is working as designed. The manufacturer’s instructions should give you the outline of how to test or service the detector. Check your detector each month to check that it is working satisfactorily, replace it if any faults are found. Many detectors have a test button, this does not test the detector but its purpose is to trigger the alarm so that you can confirm that the sound and the battery are working. Many detectors have a limited lifetime, this can be 48 months or less. Some models of detector have lifespans up to 5 years some are mains powered, others are battery powered. You should shop around to select the model that meets your needs. To save space there are combination smoke and CO detectors sold, you should check the manufacturer installation instructions for how to install these.

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