You can’t see it. You can’t hear it. You can’t feel it. You can’t touch it. And you can’t smell it. It’s no wonder then that carbon monoxide claimed over 40 lives last year according to official ONS data, and is often referred to as the ‘Silent Killer’.
In this article I’ll look at what carbon monoxide is, what to look out for and how to keep you and your family safe from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.
(UPDATED JANUARY 2023)
Table of Contents
What Is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
In a nutshell, carbon monoxide poisoning is when you breath in a poisonous gas that stops your blood from carrying oxygen to your vital organs.
Carbon monoxide can be produced by any appliance in the house that uses combustion – like your gas cooker, gas boiler, portable gas heaters and any other appliance that burns gas, oil, wood or coal.
Carbon monoxide is dangerous because you can’t see it and you can’t smell it, so you won’t know you’re in danger until you start experiencing the symptoms.
Carbon Monoxide Safety
If you have a gas boiler or any other appliance that burns fossil fuels in your home, then a carbon monoxide detector is an absolute must.
You’ll get no warnings from these appliances that they are seeping carbon monoxide into your home – in fact the first sign will be when you fall ill.
A carbon monoxide detector is cheap, easy to set up and could save your life. Here’s 3 of the best carbon monoxide detectors you can buy in the UK.
Regular maintenance of appliances and boilers by a qualified professional will reduce much of the risk of either being ill or even dying from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Most of the major power companies like EDF Energy and British Gas have fixed price, low monthy payment plans that will allow regular, yearly servicing of appliances like boilers.
If you don’t want the cost of a monthly fee, then getting an independant gas safe registered plumber is another option, but be warned, this could cost more in a one off sum than it does to pay a monthly boiler insurance package that also includes a boiler service and on call emergency call out 24/7, 365 days a year.
My advice – go for the monthly cover. If your boiler breaks down, they’ll also come out a fix it for free.
Signs Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
There are some signs to look out for if you think you may be getting poisoned by carbon monoxide. Be aware, most of these signs and symptoms are very similar to cold or flu like symptoms.
- Headaches or dizziness
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Being sick or feeling sick
- Shortness of breath
- Stomach pains
If you get some or all of these symptoms, it’s important to act fast.
The first thing you’ll need to do is get outside and get some fresh air. If you or your family are showing serious signs of poisoning, it’s an emergency, so dial 999.
Once everyone is deemed to be medically sound, it’s important not to enter the room or area for prolonged periods.
In fact, the only reason you should go in is to open all windows and doors, and to turn off any appliances that may be the cause of the leak, like boilers, gas fires or stoves.
Next, ring the Gas Emergency Helpline 0800 111 999 (the same number if you have a gas leak) and explain the situation and take their advice from then.
However, the top and bottom of it is this: one of your appliances is faulty, and it will need to be serviced or repaired by a qualified person.
Not Just At Home
If you have a camper van, motorhome or a narrowboat, a carbon monoxide detector is absolutely essential.
Small spaces and carbon monxide don’t mix well, so if you are a van lifer or have a motor home, check out our articlehere on Van Life Security and Safety.
More Information and Links
For more information on carbon monoxide poisoning and prevention, please visit the following links: