Carbon monoxide safety

Carbon Monoxide Awareness (British Sign Language)

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas which has been nicknamed the silent killer. This is due to its lack of colour, smell and taste, making it invisible to our senses. The symptoms of CO poisoning can also go unnoticed, with them often being mistaken for flu like symptoms.

The gas is produced when fossil fuels burn inefficiently, usually created by faulty boilers, gas fires and cookers. It is important to have your appliances serviced and install a CO alarm.

What are the signs of a CO leak?

  • A floppy yellow or orange flame rather than a blue flame on your hob or oven
  • Black soot stains on or around your appliances
  • Your pilot light going out often
  • A lot of condensation inside your windows


Symptoms of CO poisoning

The main symptoms to look out for are:

  • Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Breathlessness
  • Collapsing or loss of consciousness

Some of the symptoms could be mistaken for other illnesses, so look out for others in your household experiencing the same symptoms as you at the same time. This includes pets suffering from these symptoms.

Also take notice of if your symptoms disappear when you leave your home.

What should you do if you suspect CO poisoning?

  • Call the National Gas Emergency helpline to report a leak on:
  • 0800 111 999 if you live in England, Wales or Scotland
  • 0800 002 001 if you live in Northern Ireland
  • Turn off all gas appliances
  • Open windows and doors
  • Leave the house to get fresh air immediately
  • See your doctor or go to the hospital. A blood or breath test can be done to check if CO poisoning treatment is needed

How to prevent CO poisoning

  • Make sure to have your gas appliances serviced annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer
  • Install a CO alarm in your home to alert you when CO is detected
  • If you are renting your home, your landlord is responsible for ensuring you have a CO alarm and that it is in working order
  • If you own your own, you will need to buy an alarm yourself. You can pick up an alarm for between £10 to £20.