Gas Safety Week, co-ordinated by the Gas Safe Register, is a week-long event during which companies and organisations working within the industry promote gas safety.
Carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas produced by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, including natural gas, causes thousands of people every year to fall ill. It can be produced by faulty boilers, gas fires and cookers and, in the worst case, cause death by carbon monoxide poisoning.
As summer begins to fade and autumn takes its place, we start to switch on the central heating or light our fires. It is a good time of year to ensure that appliances are serviced and that chimneys and flues are swept. Carbon monoxide can be produced by an open coal or wood fire if the chimney is not drawing the smoke out of the room efficiently.
As symptoms for carbon monoxide poisoning are very similar to those of flu, it is possible for the presence of this gas to go undetected. If you have headaches and/or feelings of nausea and drowsiness, it may be due to the inhalation of carbon monoxide fumes. One of the simplest ways to protect yourself and your family is to install a carbon monoxide alarm in each room where there is a fossil fuel burning appliance. Carbon monoxide alarms sell for as little as £12.99 ex VAT . They will be triggered by the presence of carbon monoxide above 50ppm (parts per million) in the atmosphere.
On hearing your carbon monoxide alarm sound, you should open all windows and turn off the appliances that use fossil fuel. If the appliance is a gas burning device, contact the gas board and inform them of the situation. They will be able to confirm if there is carbon monoxide present and advise you on what to do next. If you were using an open fire at the point of alarm, ensure that you have swept the chimney before relighting it; if the alarm goes off again, you may need to contact your local builder to ensure that there are no problems with the integrity of your chimney.
Visit Carbonmonoxideinfo.co.uk for useful information on this gas, including real-life accounts of people’s experiences of it. To help prevent tragic deaths due to carbon monoxide poisoning, please spread the message this week to family and friends; and, if you have elderly neighbours, check that they are looking after their appliances and suggest that they install carbon monoxide alarms, too.