Carbon Monoxide: the silent killer
This video is supplied courtesy of RoSPA on vimeo.com.
What is carbon monoxide and why is it dangerous?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas. You can’t see it and you can’t smell it but CO can kill quickly without warning.
Where does it come from?
When fuel such as gas, oil, wood and coal does not burn properly it produces CO. It can be caused by gas appliances and flues that are not properly installed, maintained or that are poorly ventilated.
What does it do to you?
If CO enters your body, it stops the blood from bringing oxygen to cells, tissues, and organs, which can eventually lead to death. Levels that don’t kill can cause you serious harm if breathed in over a long period. In extreme cases paralysis and brain damage can be caused as a result of prolonged exposure to CO.
What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?
Symptoms to look out for include:
- Pains in the chest
- Stomach pains
- Erratic behavior
- Visual problems.
How common is the problem?
Hundreds of people die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning. Just a small amount of carbon monoxide in your home can cause health problems over time.
What can I do?
By being aware of the risks of CO poisoning and taking precautions you can dramatically reduce the risk in your home.
It is essential that you allow us access to your home to carry out checks on your gas boiler and appliances.
Top tips on detecting carbon monoxide
- Get yourself a carbon monoxide detector from your local DIY store
- Read the instructions carefully and make sure CO detectors are put in the recommended place in your home
- Carbon monoxide detectors do NOT work as smoke detectors
- Smoke detectors do NOT work as carbon monoxide detectors
- Test CO detectors at least once a month, following the manufacturer's instructions
- Replace CO detectors and batteries according to the manufacturer' s instructions (usually every five years)
- If there are any signs that there may be excess CO in your home, get it checked out by a professional immediately. Evacuate everyone from your home, leaving the door open for ventilation on your way out. Notify the fire service.
Please watch the useful ‘Guide to detecting carbon monoxide’ video, (courtesy of www.which.co.uk).
Why should I have my boiler serviced each year?
A service will make sure your boiler is working safely and economically. We are obliged to ensure that boilers are serviced each year each by an engineer registered with the ‘Gas Safety Register’. You are obliged to allow access to our engineers.
If you let our engineers in at the first appointment then we can be sure to service the boiler in time and keep you safe. At the moment only just over a third of tenants allow access on the first visit and 300 to 400 tenants are faced with legal action each year. So when you receive the appointment letter please either keep the appointment or call immediately to rearrange. We can offer evening and weekend appointments if needed.
My boiler looks to be working well, why do I need a service?
To provide you with hot water and heating, your boiler burns gas. It is essential that all the things that are needed to ensure this is done safely are working properly. Your boiler may seem to be working fine but it may in fact not be working in a safe condition.
Is it true that they put that smell in gas so you’ll know if it leaks?
This is true. However, if a boiler is leaking carbon monoxide you won’t be able to smell it because it is odourless.
How long does a service take?
It usually takes up to an hour depending on the type of boiler.
Can I not just check my boiler is safe myself?
No, you must have it checked by an engineer registered with the ‘Gas Safety Register’. We wouldn't recommend you try and repair your boiler yourself, but a few basic checks could help you avoid calling out an engineer if you find there is only a minor problem you could sort out yourself.