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    Loss of gas – Ingham 10 Jul 2024 12: 30 PM
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    What is carbon monoxide?

    • Open all doors and windows
    • Move outside into fresh air
    • Call us on 0800 111 999*

    Carbon monoxide has no smell at all, making it very difficult to detect a leak. Further to that, you can’t see, hear, taste or touch the gas either - this is part of the reason it’s known as ‘The Silent Killer’. Having working audible carbon monoxide alarms in your home and learning to spot the physical signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning is essential in minimising the health risks posed by a leak.

    What are the signs to look for?

    If you spot any of the signs below, it doesn’t definitely mean that there is a release of carbon monoxide, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

    • Gas flame appears ‘floppy’ and burns orange or yellow rather than mostly blue
    • Pilot light frequently blows out
    • There is soot or yellow-brown staining on or around an appliance
    • Excessive condensation in the room where you have a gas appliance.

    If you suspect a leak, call us on 0800 111 999*.

    After you’ve inhaled carbon monoxide, it enters your bloodstream and begins to mix with the haemoglobin. This creates carboxyhaemoglobin, with a level of 30% of carboxyhaemoglobin indicating severe exposure. This process makes it impossible for your blood to carry oxygen around the body, leading to illness, tissue and cell failure and, from long term exposure, potential paralysis and brain damage.

    There are several symptoms caused by carbon monoxide poisoning including:

    • Headache
    • Dizziness
    • Breathlessness
    • Nausea or feeling sick
    • Collapse
    • Loss of consciousness

    If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and they can’t be explained by any other reason, such as another illness you’re already aware of, or you immediately feel better when leaving the property, there’s a chance you’ve been or are being exposed to carbon monoxide. Some people often describe the early symptoms of exposure as being flu-like, or even feeling like being hungover. If you’ve experienced these early symptoms or know you’ve been exposed to low levels of carbon monoxide, you should seek medical advice from your GP.

    The effects of carbon monoxide exposure get worse over time, meaning early detection is vital. Over an extended period of carbon monoxide exposure, some of the following symptoms may occur:

    • Vision and memory loss
    • Confusion and difficulty thinking
    • Changes in mood
    • Chest pain

    Some of these symptoms will only come from inhaling high levels of carbon monoxide but can have potentially fatal results. It’s also important to remember that these symptoms could also happen in the first instance, so Immediate medical help should be sought if you begin to experience these symptoms.

    Carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete burning of fossil fuels. There are several ways that this can occur, including poorly fitted or maintained gas appliances and blocked chimneys or vents. It can also be produced by BBQs, wood burners and generators.

    There are several gas appliances that can cause carbon monoxide leaks, these include:

    • Free-standing gas heaters
    • Gas cookers
    • Gas fires
    • Boilers and water heaters

    Carbon monoxide can also be produced as a biproduct of burning solid fuels like coal, wood or petrol. This means that charcoal fires, running cars and cigarette smoke are all common producers of carbon monoxide. Here are some examples of carbon monoxide in everyday life:

    • Running a car in a closed garage can create deadly levels of carbon monoxide within ten minutes
    • A lit fire with a blocked flue or chimney will prevent carbon monoxide from escaping and it will build up in your home.
    • Using a BBQ in a confined space without proper ventilation or bringing it inside a caravan or tent after use can result in dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

    In order to minimise the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning, you should take the following steps:

    • Ensure that all gas appliances are properly installed and regularly serviced on an annual basis. This work should be carried out by a Gas Safe Registered engineer.
    • Ensure that all chimneys and flues are regularly cleaned to prevent blockages, this should also be done annually.
    • Fitting carbon monoxide alarms within your home and testing them regularly. Alarms should be fitted around one metre from an appliance at door height. This would ideally be in each room where there’s a gas appliance fitted. Carbon monoxide alarms can be purchased from DIY stores for around £15.

    You can find more information on carbon monoxide alarms and where you should put your alarm here.

    Remember, carbon monoxide poisoning is deadly, so if you’re worried you may have been exposed or there could be a leak in your property, you should act as quickly as possible. You can call us on 0800 111 999*.

    CO doesn't just pose a danger in the home. There are an increasing number of CO related incidents that happen outside the home.

    • BBQs – BBQs can produce CO even when they are working well. Stay safe and NEVER take a BBQ in your tent or caravan even after it’s gone out as it can give off deadly carbon monoxide for hours after being extinguished.
    • On holiday – there is a risk you might be exposed to CO when you are on holiday, whether you’re camping, staying in a cottage, villa, caravan or in a luxury resort you could be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in the UK and abroad.
    • On the Water - CO poisoning can occur on boats when emissions from gas-powered engines and generators build up in boat cabins. It's important to make sure they are kept in good condition, checked regularly and areas are well ventilated.

    CO alarms save lives – don’t travel without one and make sure you come home safely

    Further information

    ALWAYS ensure it complies with a British Standard:

    • Kitemarked to BS EN50291-1 (domestic use)
    • Kitemarked to BS EN50291-2 (camping/caravans/boats)
    • Alarms can be purchased from many places such as Hardware stores like B&Q, some supermarkets and various online suppliers like Amazon, Ebay etc.

    When you have bought an alarm

    Check the manufacturer’s recommendations about how you can test your alarm to ensure that the unit and the batteries are in good condition.

    Ensure that your CO alarm is correctly located - check the instructions from the manufacturer.

    Sensors in CO alarms don’t last forever - check manufacturer’s quoted lifetime for your CO alarm and replace it no later than recommended to ensure you continue to have adequate protection.

    There should be an audible CO detector in every room with a fuel-burning appliance eg a boiler, cooker or fire. CO detectors can be used for any kind of fossil fuel – gas, oil, coal or wood.

    The detector should be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Generally, this will be at least one metre away from the appliance, and no more than three metres away. The detector should be positioned at least five feet off the ground, and preferably at ‘top-of-door’ height. CO detectors need to be installed where they can be heard.

    Signs to look out for within properties include the following:

    • Gas appliances burning with orange or yellow flames instead of blue flames
    • Sooty stains on or near appliances
    • Pilot lights that frequently blow out
    • Increased condensation inside windows.

    You should get your gas appliances checked by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer every 12 months. You can check if an engineer is registered by phoning the Gas Safe Register on 0800 408 5500 or visiting the Gas Safe website.

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