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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The clocks have now gone back and winter is around the corner. Whilst the weather to date has been fairly mild we do not know how harsh winter will be. So before the weather turns really cold and you start using the heating and fires, service the boiler and check that chimneys and flues are clear.

Causes of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

It is not just gas appliances that can produce carbon monoxide, coal, wood, petrol and oil can also produce it too. Many may think that if you have a “living flame” gas fire you don’t need to sweep the chimney, this is not true. Those chimneys still need to be swept regularly to clear any blockages in order to prevent levels of carbon monoxide building up and causing low level poisoning.

Statistics

Over 50 people die and more than 200 are admitted to hospital each year in the UK as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning. A further 4000 a year suffer from low level effects of the gas. The All Party Gas Safety Parliamentary Group stated earlier this week, (as reported by the Daily Telegraph newspaper), that this is costing the NHS approximately £178 million a year, not including the human cost of loss of life.

Spotting Danger

Blue-gas-flameTake a moment to look at your gas appliances:

  • The gas flame should be blue. If the flame is lazy yellow or orange your appliance may be faulty.
  • Does the pilot light keep blowing out?
  • Is there any dark staining around appliances?
  • Is there an increase in condensation inside windows?

Some deaths caused by carbon monoxide poisoning may be preventable if people take a little time to service their gas appliances.

Prevention Measures

Ensure your boilers and appliances are serviced yearly by Gas Safe registered engineers. More importantly, ensure that you have fitted an audible carbon monoxide detector and have checked that it is working. You are particularly vulnerable to poisoning whilst asleep.

carbon-monoxide-detectorCarbon Monoxide alarms are relatively inexpensive. Check that it conforms to the British Standard EN 50291 mark or BSEN 50291 mark. The alarm should also have a British or European Kitemark or other European testing approval mark. Most of us now have smoke alarms and consider them to be essential to our home safety, should we not also consider carbon monoxide alarms to be just as vital?

If you require training in how to deal with first aid emergencies, including CPR and other treatments, please visit our first aid training website.

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