There have been more than 500 deaths, in the UK, due to accidental Carbon Monoxide poisoning (also called CO) over the past 14 years. It is widely reported that tenants are most at risk.
Parents may be worried about kids going off to uni and living in squalid student houses but most of the deaths from CO poisoning were in owner occupied homes and most of the deaths were people were over 40 years of age. You home owning grandparents are at greater risk than your teenager in a shared house.
Why would this be?
- Well a big number of people NEVER get their gas appliances checked, so old people may be living in homes with gas fires, cookers and boilers which are more than 20 or 30 years old have have never been serviced.
- They may have covered up the essential safety ventilation to get rid of the drafts (lots more on this subject tomorrow).
- They probably have the heating on a lot more and may sleep in a room with a gas fire or have additional portable heaters.
- Landlords are legally obliged to have all gas checked and most of them do. Homeowners often do not.
What to Do to keep yourself Safe From CO poisoning?
Gas appliances should be serviced every year.
- If you only have your boiler serviced ask the engineer if he could also do a home owner safety check, this might cost an extra £20-£40 (depending on what gas appliances you have) – check the price before hand.
- Buy a Carbon Monoxide alarm for every room that has a gas appliance. It should be placed mid way up the wall. Cost £20 to £30.
- Use your gas appliances correctly! Do not heat your house with your oven. Do not sleep in a room with a gas fire.
- Make sure there is ventilation in you kitchen if you have a gas oven or hob.
- Do not tell your car engine run, idling in the garage
- Do not use petrol engines, petrol power tools or generators in enclosed spaces.
- Do not take a gas barbeque into a tent or a garage – they are ment to be used in open air.
You can watch out for risks of CO poisoning:
- Flames should burn blue not yellow.
- Make sure any flue outside is not blocked with leaves or other rubbish.
- No black or sooty marks around gas appliances.
Watch out for symptoms of CO poisoning:
- Headaches, nausia, vomiting, dizziness. In fact just the same as enjoying yourself a little too much on a night out.
- So do you feel better when away from the house?
- Do others also feel ill when at your house?
CO poisoning is very serious. It only takes quite a small exposure to CO to kill! But if after exposure to CO you are out of the house, breathing fresh air then you should be OK. Seek medical treatment and assessment anyway. The treatment is breathing pure oxygen.
If you are interested in the figures, the greatest single item associated with the accidental CO poisoning fatalities are:
- 13% cookers/hobs/grills
- 25% room heaters & portable room heaters
- 25% boilers
What do Tara Plumbing recommend people in Thanet do to prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
CO poisoning is linked to incorrect installation, maintenance or use of gas appliances. So if they are correctly installed, serviced each year and used as intended and you don’t block up your vents and flues then gas is really very safe.
I recommend you get all gas appliances serviced or checked for safety each year.
I also recommend getting CO alarms. Note these are alarms which sound out when there is trouble and will wake you up if you are asleep. This is different to the spot detectors which change colour but you might not be looking at them when they do that!
A CO alarm only costs between £20 – 30. As in a previous blog I still recommend Honeywell H450EN Carbon Monoxide Alarm it can be bought on line or from plumbers merchants such as Plumbase at Westwood Cross. It has a battery, will last 6 years and is totally maintenance free. I wish I was on commission!