It’s well publicised that carbon monoxide is a silent killer, you can’t smell it, you can’t taste it, you can’t see it, but with can kill very quickly and with very little warning.
So, what is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide or (CO gas) is an incredibly poisonous substance that’s produced when gas and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) is not burned completely and generally occurs when an appliance has not been fitted correctly, is faulty or has been poorly maintained or serviced. Carbon monoxide can also come from other fuels such as oil, coal, wood and petrol.
If you breathe in this substance, even in small amounts, it enters your blood stream and prevents your red blood cells from carrying oxygen around your body which causes tissues and cells to die. Depending on the levels that have entered your blood stream the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning can cause paralysis or brain damage and in high level cases it can cause death.
We have already said that carbon monoxide is virtually undetectable, but there are some health symptoms that you can look out for that could indicate that your suffering from carbon monoxide exposure: –
- Loss of consciousness
These symptoms however can be very similar to other health issues such as food poisoning or the flu and can be easily dismissed as something other than carbon monoxide exposure, so if you are suffering from these symptoms ask yourself the questions such as do your symptoms get better when you’re not at home and are there others in the household who are also suffering whose symptoms also improve when they leave the house.
What to Do If You Suspect Carbon Monoxide
If you do think that you’re suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning its better to be safe than sorry and to follow the following advice: –
- Turn off the gas all gas appliances.
- Ventilate your home immediately, open all doors, windows etc. to allow the fresh air to enter into your entire house.
- Leave the house.
- Visit your doctors or emergency room immediately and inform them that you suspect carbon monoxide exposure. They can carry out a blood or breath test to confirm if you are indeed suffering from this.
- Call a Gas Safe Registered engineer to come to your home and check all of your appliances, chimneys and flues to identify any problems.
How to Detect It Early
As we’ve said several times now, carbon monoxide is undetectable to humans, no smell, no taste, no colour, however it is detectable by a Carbon Monoxide Alarm which can be purchased at any local DIY store from as little over £10s. Ensure that you buy any alarm from a reputable retailer, looking out for the British Standards Kitemark, that it’s labelled with EN 50291 and that it’s an audible alarm as you are at most risk from carbon monoxide poisoning when your asleep, so alarms with light changes only will not alert you in time.
Better Safe than Sorry
It is however much better to be safe than sorry and having a Gas Safe Registered engineer come to your home annually to check and service your appliances is the best way to avoid the risks of the silent but deadly killer.
If you’re ever in doubt about the safety of your gas appliance you can call the National Gas Emergency line on 0800 111 999.