What is carbon monoxide

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It’s called the ‘silent killer’ and with good reason. Carbon Monoxide (CO) is highly poisonous gas which has no smell, no taste and no colour. It can be produced when any fossil fuel such as coal, wood or natural gas does not burn correctly an excess CO is produced which is poisonous. Because you can’t see it, taste it or smell it, it is highly dangerous and in certain conditions can kill quickly and without warning.

10 steps to CO safety

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1. Check the flue from the appliance. Is it blocked or do you have plants or vegetation growing up your wall? Is there any danger of birds nesting in your flue or chimney? You need to move any obstruction from the flue area and fit a bird guard to stop them nesting. Having your appliances checked annually will ensure that the flue way is clear.

2. Is there adequate ventilation? Check all air bricks and grills are clear. Have you had double glazing fitted recently? If your appliances don’t have sufficient air they may produce CO gas.

3. When did you have your appliance last checked? Do it every year and don’t leave it to chance and make sure you use a Gas SafeTM Registered engineer. However, conditions can change and this is where a CO detector can be used to support your annual service program. You will need a detector in each room you have gas appliances.

4. Do you have a gas grill? Do not use your gas grill as a room heater as this can be particularly hazardous.

5. Do you suffer form unexplained illnesses? Fatigue, muscle pains upset stomach, lethargy, dizziness and headaches can be symptoms of CO poisoning. Go to your doctor and get a ‘ CohB’ test, go directly from your house, as the CO in your blood will deplete quickly over time and may not be detected.

6. Are you a tenant? If so, you have rights. Does the property you rent have a a safety certificate? Does your landlord (remember this could be a private landlord or a housing association) check your appliances (they must do this by law). Has your landlord fitted a CO detector?

7. Are you a Landlord? Have you carried out your statutory checks? Even if you have you may be liable if one of your tenants becomes ill or even dies. As a landlord, you have to show due diligence.

8. Do you feel better after a holiday? If you return from your holiday especially invigorated it may be that you have been removed from the source of the poison. If your health goes into decline on your return it may be that you are suffering ill-effects from being poisoned from CO in your home.

9. Are you protected? It is vitally important to protect yourself and family from CO poisoning. As a minimum, you should have your appliances checked annually by a Gas Safe’” Registered engineer and get a CO detector fitted now.

10. Check the flame picture (colour) of your appliance. If it’s orange you do have a problem. However, blue does not necessarily mean its safe. Get your appliances checked regularly (at least annually) and get a CO detector for that extra peace of mind.