Carbon monoxide (CO) – The ‘silent’ killer
Warning During floods be aware that the air vents may be under water and serious risk to life is possible. Make sure other means of ventilation is provided (such as opening a window)
Carbon monoxide is a colourless, tasteless and odourless gas that is produced when fossil fuels such as coal, oil, natural gas, LPG, charcoal and wood are not burned efficiently.
It can be produced from poorly maintained or badly fitted domestic heating appliances such as boilers, wall heaters, wood burners, blocked flues or exhaust vents. Other possible signs of a CO leak include black, sooty marks on the front covers of gas fires, sooty marks on the walls around boilers, stoves or fires, yellow instead of blue flames coming from gas appliances.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning
Carbon monoxide (CO) is sometimes referred to as the ‘silent killer’.
In the UK, more than 50 people die from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning every year, and 200 people are left seriously ill. It is very important to be aware of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and to look out for warning signs. A headache is the most common symptom of mild carbon monoxide poisoning, other symptoms include sickness, tiredness and confusion, stomach pain, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, all of which can easily be misdiagnosed as flu or food poisoning.
If you suspect CO2 poisoning get the affected person into fresh air as soon as possible and phone for an ambulance. The affected person will need oxygen therapy urgently.
It is therefore important to protect your Family, Home or Boat with a carbon monoxide alarm. An audible carbon monoxide alarm is a good way to ensure you’re immediately alerted to any carbon monoxide in your home, therefore the only safe way to know if carbon monoxide is present is to install carbon monoxide detectors (alarms) on every level of your home and in sleeping areas. For those that spend time on their Boat, having discovered the causes of carbon monoxide poisoning, it stands to reason that it is essential to have an alarm fitted.
Always be sure to test your alarm regularly using the test button and replace batteries annually or when the low battery signal sounds.
Fit alarms approved as meeting BS EN 50291-2; these are best suited for boats. Alarms with life-long batteries are available
If you already have a Kite marked alarm, tested to BS EN 50291, or 50291-1, the advice is to keep it, test it routinely and when it needs replacing, choose a unit tested to BS EN 50291-2.