Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an extremely poisonous gas and far more is present in solid fuel (coal and wood) than gas. The gas cannot be seen, smelt or tasted, making it difficult to detect.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning
The early symptoms of CO poisoning are usually similar to common ailments such as upset stomach, tiredness and flu. They include:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Dizziness or collapse
- Chest and/or stomach pains
- Erratic behaviour and/or visual problems.
What to do in a carbon monoxide emergency
If you suspect fumes are escaping from your combustion appliance into your home, or your carbon monoxide alarm goes off, take the following action:
- If your appliance is automatically fed with fuel, turn the appliance off.
- Open doors and windows to ventilate the building.
- Leave the building immediately and dont return until your appliance or boiler has extinguished and the air in the room is clear.
- If you feel unwell go to your Doctor, call the NHS 111 service or, if it is urgent, phone 999 for an ambulance. Tell them you feel your symptoms may be related to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Before you reuse the appliance, have it serviced and the chimney swept by a HETAS registered installer or approved chimney sweep. Do not use the appliance until you are told it is safe to do so.
Protect yourself from CO
Have your appliance serviced and cleaned regularly by a HETAS registered installer. Ensure your chimney is kept clear by having it swept at frequent intervals by a HETAS approved chimney sweep. Make sure the installation complies with Building Regulations guidance. The guidance is there to protect you. Fit an audible CO alarm conforming to BS EN 50291 and positioned in accordance with Building Regulation s Approved Document J requirements.
CO alarms should be regularly tested and should not be regarded as a substitute for regular maintenance of the appliance and chimney.