Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, poisonous gas which is produced when carbon-based fuels, including gas, oil, wood and coal don’t burn correctly.
Your gas appliances are safe to use, it is only when the fuel does not burn properly that excess CO is produced, which is poisonous. When CO enters the body, it prevents the blood from bringing oxygen to cells, tissues, and organs and can be fatal.
You can't see it, taste it or smell it but CO can kill quickly without warning.
Every year around 7 people die from CO poisoning caused by gas appliances and flues that have not been properly installed, maintained or that are poorly ventilated. Levels that do not kill can cause serious harm to health if breathed in over a long period.
So what are the signs to look out for?
· yellow or orange flames where they should be blue
· soot or yellow/brown staining around or on appliances
· pilot lights that go out often
· increased condensation inside windows
The best way to make sure your gas appliances are safe is to have them serviced annually by a Gas Safe Registered engineer and have your chimney swept regularly.
If you suspect your appliances are omitting CO then switch off the appliance and turn the gas of at the meter and call a Gas Safe Registered Engineer.
It’s easy to confuse the early symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning with food poisoning, viral infections, flu or simple tiredness. Symptoms to look out for include:
· headaches or dizziness
· loss of consciousness
· pains in the chest or stomach
· erratic behaviour
· visual problems
For more information visit the NHS website or telephone NHS Direct on 0845 4647.