Because Carbon Monoxide (CO) is odourless, colourless, and otherwise undetectable to the human senses, it can kill quickly without warning. The initial symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning are similar to the flu (but without the fever) and include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness.
CO is produced by the incomplete burning of various fuels, including coal, wood, charcoal, oil, kerosene, propane, and natural gas.
Higher level CO poisoning results in progressively more severe symptoms, including confusion, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination and loss of consciousness.
Should Carbon Monoxide poisoning symptoms be experienced when using a gas appliance, turn the appliance off and go to your doctor. Ask your doctor to check for Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
You should always make sure there is enough fresh air in the room containing your gas appliance. If you have a chimney or a flue, make sure it is not blocked and also ensure that vents are not covered.
Making sure that your appliances are working correctly can help avoid CO poisoning.
Here are some warning signs that an appliance may be malfunctioning…
- Yellow or orange, rather than blue flames (with exception of decorative gas fires),
- An unsteady or low/poor gas appliance burner flame,
- Soot or yellow/brown staining around or on appliances,
- An unusual pungent odour when the appliance is operating,
- Pilot lights that frequently blow out,
- Increased condensation inside windows.
You should always ensure that your gas appliances and/or flues are installed and serviced regularly for safety by a Registered Gas Installer.
You should check the appliance and flues regularly for blockages, corrosion, partial and complete disconnections, and loose connections.
Carbon Monoxide alarms
Carbon Monoxide alarms are a very useful precaution against Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning. These alarms will detect the presence of Carbon Monoxide in your home and can aid in your defence against CO poisoning.
When purchasing a Carbon Monoxide alarm check that the alarm complies with the EN 50291 standard and be sure to purchase an audible alarm as you are particularly vulnerable to CO poisoning when asleep. You can purchase a Carbon Monoxide alarm from your nearest hardware store.
Remember, Carbon Monoxide alarms should only be seen as a precautionary system and are no replacement for safe boiler installation and maintenance by a Registered Gas Installer.
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