Carbon monoxide has no smell or taste. But in large quantities it will kill you.

You may be surprised to know thousands of people go to accident and emergency departments every year with carbon monoxide poisoning. Even if it’s not fatal, many people have to cope with the long term consequences which can include brain damage and heart problems.
What can cause carbon monoxide poisoning? fossil-fuelsCarbon monoxide is produced when carbon fuels such as gas, oil, coal and wood don't burn fully. So if you think for a few moments about the types of appliances using those fuels in your home and workplace, you’ll understand why so many people have the potential to be affected. When a fire burns in an enclosed room, the oxygen in that room is gradually used up. It’s replaced by carbon dioxide. If this builds up, the fuel is prevented from burning properly. At that point it starts releasing carbon monoxide. How can you recognise carbon monoxide poisoning? sleepingExposure to carbon monoxide reduces the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood which limits the availability of oxygen to the body. But diagnosis isn’t always easy as it shares its symptoms with many other health problems. Signs can include nausea, dizziness, tiredness, bad headaches and chest pains. What should you do if you suspect someone has CO poisoning? depression-help-someone-400x400Remove them from the affected area straight away and get them into the open air. If you have pure oxygen, give it to them and call for medical help immediately. And don’t let them exert themselves in any way.    


1. Get all cooking and heating appliances installed and serviced by a reputable, registered engineer. Make sure anyone working on gas installations or appliances is on the Gas Safe Register. For solid fuel appliances they should belong to the Heating Equipment Testing and Approval Scheme (HETAS) or the Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC) for oil appliances. And never use a cooking appliance as a source of heating. 2. Burning fuel in an enclosed or unventilated space can pose a serious risk. Make sure all rooms are well ventilated and air can circulate. Installing an air vent, opening a window fractionally or even just leaving doors ajar can help. 3. Get all chimneys and flues swept by a qualified sweep. They can get blocked by all types of things - bird nests, bricks that have worked loose and fallen, vegetation – without you realising. 4. If you use any cleaning fluids or paint removers containing methylene chloride make sure you always have a safety mask on.

Are you alarmed? While fitting a carbon monoxide alarm should never be regarded as an alternative to reducing the risk, it does give you an early warning system. They’re readily available at DIY stores and many supermarkets. Check they’re approved to the most recent British or European Standard (BS Kitemark or EN50291).

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