Carbon Monoxide Awareness
What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a highly poisonous gas that cannot be seen, tasted and has no odour. It can be released by any appliance that burns OIL, GAS, SOLID FUEL, or WOOD, including boilers, if they are not correctly installed or maintained. It can also be released if chimneys, flues or air vents are blocked so it is important to get these swept regularly and to keep vents clear of obstruction. More information about local chimney sweeps can be found on the Northern Ireland Association of Chimney Sweeps website www.niacs.co.uk
What are the symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning?
When Carbon Monoxide is breathed in it starves the body of oxygen and can produce these symptoms:
Headaches Dizziness Nausea
Collapse Breathlessness Loss of Consciousness
High level exposure is often fatal, acting in minutes but lower level exposure can also lead to lasting damage to health including permanent brain damage.
Other Danger signs include:
Sooting or staining on or around the appliance.
Excessive condensation in the room where the appliance is installed.
Lazy yellow/orange coloured gas flames on cookers or boilers rather than a sharp blue one.
How can I protect myself?
Get all fuel-burning appliances serviced every year by a qualified engineer registered with the appropriate organisation:
Gas Safe Register (gas)
www.gassaferegister.co.uk 0800 408 5500
OFTEC (oil) Oil Firing Technical Association
www.oftec.org 0845 658 5080
Northern Ireland Coal Advisory Service (solid fuel)
www.coaladvisoryservice.com 0845 712 5300
Make sure you know what to do and who to call in an emergency.
If you suspect Carbon Monoxide is present stop using the appliance until it has been checked by a registered installer or engineer.
You should open windows to ventilate the area and go outside into fresh air and stay there until the relevant support arrives.
If possible extinguish or turn off the fuel supply.
Emergency Service Contact
GAS: Gas Emergency Service (24 hours) 0800 002 001
OIL: OFTEC 0845 65 85 080 OR your local OFTEC registered engineer
In a medical emergency, don't delay call 999 for an ambulance.
If you receive medical attention, be sure to state that you suspect Carbon Monoxide poisoning to ensure you receive appropriate treatment, such as a breath or blood test.
Have all appliances checked by a qualified engineer before reusing.