Carbon Monoxide : The Silent Killer
The Silent Killer
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is known as the Silent Killer because it is an odourless, tasteless and colourless toxic gas which is produced by incomplete combustion of fossil fuels used in central heating systems, gas appliances and fires. CO can be emitted from any appliance burning combustible fuel, e.g. gas (mains or bottled), solid fuel (coal, wood, etc), petrol, oil or paraffin etc.
The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may resemble other types of poisonings and infections, including symptoms such as headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, and a feeling of weakness. Affected families often believe they are victims of food poisoning. Infants may be irritable and feed poorly. Neurological signs include confusion, disorientation, visual disturbance, syncope and seizures. Low-level exposure of CO over a long period can cause brain and neurological damage. Some people, particularly the elderly, are ill for months and even years without knowing why.
Warning signs of Carbon Monoxide
Boilers, hobs and fires can fail quickly and without warning. You may not have time to notice any problems or react, as high levels of CO can kill very quickly. There is no substitute for an audible alarm.
However signs which may indicate carbon monoxide emission include:
- Yellow or orange rather than blue flames (except for ‘coal effect’ fires).
- Soot or yellow/brown staining around appliances.
- Pilot lights that frequently blow out.
- Increased condensation on windows.
Affected families often believe they are victims of food poisoning. Infants may be irritable and feed poorly. Neurological signs include confusion, disorientation, visual disturbance, syncope and seizures. Low-level exposure of CO over a long period can cause brain and neurological damage. Some people, particularly the elderly, are ill for months and even years without knowing why.
Carbon Monoxide poisoning can occur if:
- Your appliance was poorly installed and hasn’t been checked or maintained regularly by a GAS SAFE or OFTEC registered engineer.
- Your appliance is not working properly.
- Your chimney or flue gets blocked up.
How to act in an emergency:
- It is important to ventilate by opening as much doors and windows as possible.
- Shut off the gas supply at the meter and leave the property.
- Call the Gas Emergency or any available Emergency number.
Carbon Monoxide poisoning is preventable by taking sensible precautions.
CO detectors are designed to measure CO levels over time and sound an alarm before dangerous levels of CO accumulate in an environment, giving people adequate warning to safely ventilate the area or evacuate. Some system-connected detectors also alert a monitoring service that can dispatch emergency services if necessary.
- It is highly recommended, buying an audible Carbon Monoxide alarm. Most audible CO alarms are battery operated, so you can take them with you if you move home or go on holiday. They last 5-7 years.
- Audible alarms typically cost around £20, and can be bought at DIY stores, plumbing & heating shops or online.
- Never use a gas, oil or solid fuel appliance if you think it is not working properly.
- Never cover an appliance or block air vents, grilles, flues or air bricks.
- Get your gas, oil, or solid fuel appliances checked every 12 months by a registered Gas Safe, HETAS or OFTEC engineer, recognizable by one of the logo’s below:
The National Landlord Association Landlords’ Duties
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 make it mandatory for landlords to ensure that gas appliances, pipework and ﬂues provided for tenants are in a safe condition at all times. A landlord or agent may not contract out of their obligations under the Regulations and a breach is a criminal offence.
Main Landlord’s duties on CO:
- To have annual safety inspections and maintenance of pipework, appliances and flues, (A copy of the safety check report must be given to existing tenants and to new tenants before they move in.) carried out only by a Gas Safe registered engineer
- To keep records. (Records include a copy of the annual safety check report, together with receipts and invoices for maintenance and any other gas work. Records must be kept for a minimum of two years.)
Tenants also have responsibilities imposed upon them by the regulations and landlords should inform them of this, asking them to report any defect and not to use an appliance that is known or thought to be unsafe. It is also important that tenants are made aware of the location of the emergency gas control valve and how it is operated. CO alarms are already required under building regulations in England and Wales where there are new or replacement solid fuel heating appliances.
To view the NLA’s Gas Safety & Carbon Monoxide video click here.
For further information, quotes or request an installation please contact us at:
D&L PROPERTY SERVICES LTD.
TEL: 01273 600160