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Protect yourself from the risks of carbon monoxide

CO is a silent killer so here are tips on protecting your family

Any gas appliance such as a fire, boiler or cooker can potentially leak deadly carbon monoxide gas into your home. It is odourless, colourless and tasteless and the symptoms can often be confused with flu symptoms. It can kill very quickly and affects the young and the vulnerable even faster.

Luckily there are a number of measures you can take to both prevent CO escaping in the first place and warning you should it happen.

1. Make sure gas appliances are only installed by Gas Safe engineers

Fitting a boiler or gas fire is not a job for an enthusiastic amateur or even someone whose registration has lapsed. A Gas Safe engineer will install your appliance to meet all safety regulations which will significantly minimise the risk of CO escaping. Apart from the safety aspect, appliances not installed by Gas Safe engineers would invalidate any manufacturer’s warranty.

2. Service appliances annually

Appliances can develop faults over time. The best way to avoid this is to maintain them properly. An annual service by a Gas Safe engineer is the best way to keep your boiler and your fire working as they should and preventing issues from arising.

3. Make sure space is well ventilated

Lack of adequate ventilation is one of the greatest risks when it comes to CO leaks. Make sure any space where there is a gas appliance is well ventilated and that nothing is blocking or covering the flue.

4. Use carbon monoxide detection alarms

These are really important and relatively inexpensive (usually around £20). A CO alarm will detect even tiny levels of carbon monoxide and sound an alarm. Make sure any alarm that you buy complies with British Standard BS: EN50291, test it periodically and always change the batteries when it alerts you that they’re low.

Keep the alarm close to the appliance. If that’s on a different floor to where people sleep you may want to keep another alarm in that area to alert you should a leak be detected in the night when you may not hear it in a kitchen or cellar.

Know the symptoms

The effects of CO poisoning can include fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath and chest pains. With a low level leak you could experience symptoms over a period of time and sometimes the symptoms can feel quite flu-like. If you feel well when away from home this can indicate that the cause is in the house.

If you have any gas appliances that have not been serviced for a while then we would really recommend that you do so (servicing makes sense for a number of reasons, including prolonging the life of the appliance and optimising performance, not just to protect you against CO poisoning). If we can help you with this call us on 0800 032 6478 or complete the form opposite.

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