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Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week 2023

Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week took place between the 20-26th of November; an annual reminder of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and the things we can do to prevent it in our homes.


What is Carbon Monoxide?


Carbon Monoxide is a deadly gas that cannot be detected by human senses. It is not visible, has no taste, and it has no odour. This can make it very challenging to identify a carbon monoxide leak in your home. Household appliances such as cookers, boilers, stoves, and fireplaces can all produce carbon monoxide while in use. 


Each year in the UK alone, over 200 people are hospitalised with suspected carbon monoxide poisoning, which leads to around 60 deaths a year.



Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning


The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are very similar to those of a cold or flu-like illness. This can make it difficult to identify. Symptoms can include:

  • Tension-type headache

  • Nausea

  • Dizziness

  • Breathlessness

  • Collapse

  • Loss of consciousness


If you suspect that you may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, the symptoms may become less severe if you move outside. 


Carbon monoxide leaks should always be checked by a professional.



Importance of a Carbon Monoxide Alarm


A CO alarm detects the presence of carbon monoxide gas in order to avoid fatal carbon monoxide poisoning. They are constantly monitoring the environment to protect people from poisonous CO gas. 


All properties with fuel-burning appliances should have a CO alarm. This includes gas/combi boilers, and appliances such as woodburning stoves. A CO alarm should be present in each area where a potential CO leak may occur. 



What To Do If a CO Alarm Sounds?


  • Open nearby doors and windows.

  • Stop using all fuel-burning appliances and, if possible, turn them off. 

  • Evacuate the property leaving the doors and windows open. 

  • In an emergency call the National Gas Service on 0800 111 999.

  • Alternatively, call your gas or fuel supplier on their emergency number.

  • Do not re-enter the property until informed it is safe to do so.

  • Get medical help immediately for anyone suffering the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. 

  • Do not use the appliance again until it has been checked by an expert.



What to Look For When Buying a CO Alarm


All CO alarms should be thoroughly tested and certified to British Standard EN50291. Always look out for this certification and avoid purchasing an alarm that is not legally certified.


Make sure that the alarm sound is audible and will alert you if it a detects carbon monoxide leak. Some CO alarms are available with a digital display for greater accessibility.



With thanks to Carbon Monoxide: Alarms Saves Lives for the information and resources they have provided.



Stay Carbon Monoxide Safe. Woman with head in hands.
Graphic: Carbon Monoxide Alarms Save Lives

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