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Carbon Monoxide - The Silent Killer

Are you aware of the dangers of Carbon Monoxide poisoning?

We may all know that carbon monoxide can kill you, but did you know that it takes the lives of around 50 people each year. It’s often referred to as the silent killer due to its lack of smell and taste and can slowly poison for hours or even days without being noticed. Due to this, many people don’t consider that they may be at risk in their homes – even though most of us have products that can emit it and therefore have the potential to cause us harm. Plumbing Stocks is raising awareness of this issue since it can be deadly.

Unsurprisingly, faulty central heating systems are the most common causes of carbon monoxide leaks along with gas cookers in the U.K. Of course, you should be having proper maintenance on your central heating system regardless of the risk of poisoning, however many people don’t consider the damage that this can do. It can easily be prevented by ensuring your appliances and central heating system are in good condition, by getting it regularly serviced by a gas safe engineer.

So, what is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas produced when carbon-based fuels like gas or oil don’t burn off completely. It has no colour, taste, or smell which is why it’s extremely dangerous. When taken into the lungs over a period of time it starves the body of oxygen. Even if a large amount isn’t consumed in one go, small amounts over a long period of time can cause brain damage and ultimately death, making even a very small leak deadly.

How could I have a leak?

The most common reason that people may find that they have a carbon monoxide leak is due to neglected maintenance of appliances. With poor ventilation on top of that, it contains the gas and can cause it to leak. Flues, vents, and other ventilation devices need to be completely obstruction free and regularly checked for any irregularities to ensure any waste materials are being allowed to escape. It goes without saying that regular servicing by a Gas Safe registered engineer should identify and reduce any future risk.

If you suspect that your appliance might be producing carbon monoxide or you’re concerned that something might not be right, you should follow these steps immediately:

  • Switch off all appliances and open doors and windows to ventilate.
  • Get out of the property and consume some fresh air
  • Call the gas emergency number on 0800 111 999, and an ambulance as you may not think you’ve been affected when there may be internal damage.

Even if you’re not 100% sure, it is always better to get something like this checked out. One fool proof way of recognizing a gas leak is with a carbon monoxide detector as mentioned below.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The Gas Safe register describes 6 main signs of carbon monoxide poisoning to be aware of:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness or tiredness
  • Nausea/sickness
  • Breathlessness
  • Collapsing
  • Loss of consciousness

If you are experiencing any of these, get outside and call the emergency services.

How can I prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?

Although Carbon Monoxide poisoning is very rare, it is extremely dangerous, and the risk should be taken seriously. Installing a carbon monoxide safety alarm is the easiest and most efficient way to keep your family and pets safe. Plumbing Stocks recommends the Google Nest smoke and CO detector. This carbon monoxide alarm and smoke detector has an industrial‐grade smoke sensor. It tests itself automatically and lasts for up to 10 years – available in wired and battery. It even tells you what’s wrong and can send an alert to your phone. It really will leave you with peace of mind and is a great way to protect against the risk of a carbon monoxide leak and CO poisoning.

Whilst a CO alarm is a great device for detecting CO leaks, it is not an alternative to having your boiler and heating system regularly maintained and should only be used as an addition for CO awareness. The only way to ensure your gas appliances and boiler are Gas Safe is to get it checked out by a Gas Safe Engineer and serviced regularly. This is also the only way to prevent the leaks in the first place, and not leave it until your risk is imminent. Be a responsible homeowner and prevent any accidents by scheduling yours often for CO safety.