What is the impact of Carbon Monoxide poisoning on people?

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer so be do not delay if you see any warning signs. Symptoms can be similar to other illnesses so act quickly if you have any doubts. Take action today and ensure you are able to take action tomorrow. Age and good health are no defense against poisoning from carbon monoxide. Your pets could also be injured or worse.

What are the carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms?

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can often be confused with other flu like illnesses and include:-
– frequent headaches
– balance problems
– extreme tiredness
– sickness

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.

Carbon Monoxide Some facts and safety advice

Leaving no smell and having no taste Carbon Monoxide is very dangerous and toxic. Bad ventilation to a boiler can lead to the production of this gas. Properly balanced ventilation will result in Carbon Dioxide output, Carbon Monoxide will result if the level of oxygen is restricted with reduced airflow 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.

Can you identify a carbon monoxide problem if you look at your gas appliances?

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. 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.

Tell me how to reduce the chances of Carbon Monoxide related illness.

The underlying cause of carbon monoxide production is lack of ventilation to a gas flame. Assuming that a ventilation audit of your proposed installation was completed before your boiler was fitted the best defense to this is the regular and expert servicing of any gas appliances that you have including your boiler. To ensure that you get expert appliance service you should check that the engineer is CORGI-registered. Fitting a carbon monoxide detector with an audible alarm is also a valuable investment to provide early warning of potential carbon monoxide poisoning. 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. Garden plants can also be a danger to you as growth throughout the summer can block air vents to a boiler which may not be in operation until the cold weather returns. If ventilation is provided through a chimney this should be inspected throughout the year to confirm that it has not become blocked by debris or even a nest created by birds. Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors make different sounds. You should ensure that your family are aware of the differences so that they take the correct action when one of your detectors is triggered.

What features will a good detector have?

Preferred CO detectors should contain an audible alarm and be have British Standards certification. Look for a very loud alarm and 5 year battery life as minimum requirements in a CO detector. You should avoid the cheaper detectors which have a coloured spot which will change in colour when high carbon monoxide levels are detected. Chemical detectors have 6 month lifetimes and are not cost effective in the long run as they have to be replaced often. Chemical detectors lack of loud alarms prevents them from waking your family at night time if CO levels rise and this could be a major safety issue. Both types of alarms are now commonly available in DIY stores.

Can the general public purchase carbon monoxide detectors?

Carbon monoxide detectors can be effective in preventing incidences of carbon monoxide poisoning. Several types of detector are now becoming available in DIY shops and the supermarket chains. Carbon monoxide detectors trigger an alarm based on an accumulation of carbon monoxide over time. CO detectors are not yet as reliable as the smoke detectors in your home but the technology is becoming more reliable and they are an important early warning mechanism. Your best protection against exposure to carbon monoxide is the regular servicing of your gas burning appliances. A CO detector will only ever be a backup measure.

The benefits of installing a Carbon Monoxide detector

The installation of CO detectors give a warning to people in a building of unhealthy or dangerous levels of CO before the symptoms of CO poisoning occur. The levels at which carbon monoxide detectors are triggered are measured against the level of gas that would start to harm a healthy adult. As such you need to act quickly when children could have been exposed to the emissions as they can be harmed by lower levels of the gas. 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. Carbon Monoxide detectors should be installed where the alarm can be heard from your bedroom, you need to be woken quickly should the alarm be triggered.

The operation of detectors must be checked frequently

Your safety is dependent upon your detector so regularly check it is working correctly. The manufacturer’s instructions should give you the outline of how to test or service the detector. Test CO alarms at least once a month and replace them according to the service instructions if found to be defective. The ‘test’ feature on many detectors checks the functioning of the alarm and not the status of the detector. After 48 months (2 years) some detectors may need to be replaced and you should check how long your detector will operate. There are detectors on sale which can operate for 60 months In addition to battery models there are some that are mains powered and have battery backup to cover power failures. The choice is yours. There are combined detectors sold which combine smoke and carbon monoxide detectors within the same case. These may have specific installation instructions as advised by the manufacturer and you should pay particular attention as to how these should be installed.

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