Are there any carbon monoxide symptoms warning of the presence of the gas?

You may observe common flu like symptoms in someone who is actually suffering from Carbon Monoxide inhalation with features like: –
* headaches which occur daily
* balance problems
* little energy
* upset stomach and sickness

If you notice carbon monoxide 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.

Leaving no smell and having no taste Carbon Monoxide is very dangerous and toxic. Normal gas fire or boiler operation produces harmless gases but lack of oxygen can result in Carbon Monoxide production. The standard flue gases from a boiler, or other gas appliance such as a gas fire, contain Carbon Dioxide, this is displaced by Carbon Monoxide when the oxygen levels are reduced. 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 is the impact of Carbon Monoxide poisoning on people?

Carbon monoxide kills so do not take any risks if you suspect you may be suffering from inhalation of the gas. Do not read this or other articles and form your own judgement. Take action today and ensure you are able to take action tomorrow. Any member of the family can be affected by carbon monoxide regardless of their age. This also applies to household pets.

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. 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. As a second, very important, line of defence, fit a British Standard approved carbon monoxide detector with an audible alarm. Air vents maintain the required air flow to you gas appliances and it is important that these are kept free of any obstructions as this could result in a reduced flow of air. Moving outside your property take a look at all ventilation ducts and air bricks to ensure that they have not been covered by plant growth. 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. Ensure that you are aware of the different sounds from your smoke alarms and your CO alarms. If the carbon monoxide detector alarm sounds be certain that it was your CO detector and not your smoke detector.

How can I see I have a carbon monoxide problem?

If your gas appliances have indications of discoloration on their surface or on the walls near them you may be seeing some of the results of poor ventilation and production of excess waste gases. 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 pilot light in your system starts burning yellow you should have the boiler serviced by a trained engineer without delay.

Are carbon monoxide detectors available in the shops?

CO detectors are important household aids in detecting carbon monoxide and giving early warning of potential problems. These days these are several types of detector available in the local shops. Carbon monoxide detectors trigger an alarm based on an accumulation of carbon monoxide over time. 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 ensure you have regular servicing of your appliances and treat your carbon monoxide detector as a secondary, backup measure. It is not your first line of defence.

When I buy a detector what should I look for?

Recommended detectors are certified to British Standard and have an audible alarm. Key points for these alarms are a 5 year plus battery and the loud alarm alerting family members to the presence of carbon monoxide to the need to get to fresh air. 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. These are not recommended as they have a life of around six months and you must remember to replace them regularly. 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. Many types of shops carry these detectors and smoke alarms also.

The advantages of installing a Carbon Monoxide detector in your home

Early advice of rising levels of CO can give people enough time to leave a building before the symptoms of CO poisoning occur. The installation of CO detectors gives this warning. Installing a detector will give a healthy adult early warning of carbon monoxide emissions before they reach the levels at which an adult would be displaying 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. For maximum effectiveness during sleeping hours, carbon monoxide detectors should be placed close to sleeping areas.

CO Detectors must be tested regularly

Test your carbon monoxide detector regularly to make sure it is doing its job to protect you. Detectors should come with instructions detailing the steps to take to check the effective functioning of 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. You should note when the detector needs to be replaced, some have an operating life of only 48 months. 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. To reduce installation requirements some detectors sold combine both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors but you should check the installation instructions from the manufacturer to see how these should be installed.

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