Will a Carbon Monoxide alarm detect gas leaks? Carbon Monoxide detectors will only be activated by the presence of carbon monoxide gas (CO), which is the result of incomplete combustion. CO can be released by faulty fuel-burning appliances, such as gas stoves, boilers, and fire places. Carbon monoxide detectors will not detect gas leaks involving the natural gas (NG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) which fuel household appliances, such as boilers.
Why has my CO alarm not gone off during a gas leak?
An odorant is added to LPG and NG gas supplied to homes, because the gases are highly flammable and explosive. The unpleasant, sulphur-like smell is designed to alert occupiers to any leaks. Many people worry that there is a problem with their CO detectors when, even though they can smell gas, their CO alarm has not gone off.
However, in these scenarios, the CO alarm is not faulty. The detectors in these devices are only triggered by carbon monoxide, which is released by faulty fuel burning appliances. Carbon monoxide is colourless and has no smell, and therefore cannot be detected by humans, unlike a gas leak. Ensure your CO alarm is in good working order by pressing the ‘test’ button regularly. You should also check that the alarm is still ‘in date’ (CO alarms usually need replacing between 7 and 10 years after installation).
How can I protect my family from carbon monoxide gas?
Carbon Monoxide has no colour, smell, or taste, but can kill within minutes of exposure. CO is a byproduct of incomplete combustion within faulty gas burning appliances, so there is no way to add an odorant to this deadly gas. The only way to detect Carbon Monoxide is with a CO detector. To protect your family from CO poisoning:
A carbon monoxide alarm can’t detect gas leaks, so how can a gas leak be detected?
Gas leaks can be incredibly dangerous, due to the explosive and flammable nature of component gases. While the strong smell added to these gases is designed to alert occupiers of the leak, this is unlikely to wake you if you are asleep. If you wish to protect your family against leaks of unburned gases, install a specialist gas detector in your home.
What to do if there is a gas leak in your home
If you smell gas in your home, it is likely that there is a gas leak. This could be in your home, or a neighbouring property. Open all windows and doors to dilute the concentrations of gas in the property. Do not light cigarettes or matches, or turn on any electrical devices. If possible, turn off the gas meter to stop more gas from entering, and alert neighbours to do the same until the source of the leak has been professionally identified.
Evacuate the property, and once outside the property, call your local GDN’s emergency number (Gas Distribution Network) as soon as possible.
The average person lives for 79 years and spends 70 of those years indoors – it’s no secret that people are spending more time than ever indoors with the technology we have at our disposal today. Therefore, it is more important than ever to have good indoor air quality in your home and workplace. Poor air quality has been linked to increased risk of heart disease and strokes as well as lung diseases such as COPD and cancer.
How air quality is measured
The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a system that is used for reporting daily air quality. In the UK, it is measured on a scale from 1 to 10 and informs the public whether the air quality in their area is good, moderate, unhealthy, very unhealthy or hazardous. The AQI number is calculated based on the levels of 5 common air pollutants: ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide.
Indoor air quality can be measured using an indoor air quality monitor. These monitors detect the quantity of CO2 in the air, allowing you to keep track of CO2 emissions in your home. This informs you when CO2 levels get too high which would indicate you to take appropriate measures to reduce air pollution indoors.
Sources of indoor air pollution
Indoor air pollution can come from a variety of sources including from materials used in the initial construction of the building and chemicals in paint and carpets. Other actions contributing to poor air quality could include cooking, cleaning, wood stove burning, candle burning, using personal care products, moisture, keeping house plants that give off volatile chemicals, and more.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a highly poisonous gas that is produced when appliances such as boilers cookers, heaters, gas fires and solid fuel burners are faulty, have been incorrectly fitted, or not regularly serviced. Even a low level of carbon monoxide in your home could cause severe health problems. A CO detector is the only way to detect carbon monoxide as it is a tasteless, colourless and odorless gas. CO alarms can either be wall mounted or used as a portable device. Specific models are also tested for use when travelling and in caravans, tents or boats. A digital carbon monoxide detector will display the level of carbon monoxide in the air. Some indoor air quality monitors also monitor the presence of carbon monoxide.
There is also growing evidence that dampness and mould contribute to indoor air pollution. It has been suggested that dust mites and fungi, which favour damp environments, produce several allergens as well as toxins and irritants. This can have serious effects on respiratory health. Dampness is also an indicator of poor ventilation which may result in increased levels of a wide range of potentially harmful indoor pollutants. Today’s houses are more air tight, which is more energy efficient. But, this impacts air flow and it’s important to be mindful of the need for ventilation.
Symptoms of bad air quality
Air pollution can shorten lives and damage the quality of life for many people. You may be in a polluted environment if you experience the following symptoms: headaches, eye / nose / throat / skin irritation, watery eyes, sinus congestion, coughing, sneezing, chest pain, inflammation of airways. If you are experiencing symptoms of bad air quality, it is important to identify and remove sources of pollution.
How to prevent air pollution
There are several steps you can take to start increasing indoor air quality in your home. You must also limit your exposure to air pollution. Here is a list of things to consider when improving air quality:
Always use an extractor fan and open windows while cooking
Ella Roberta Adoo Kissi Debrah died at only 9 years old due to exposure of excessive air pollution in London. Since then, Ella’s law, also known as the Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill, was introduced to parliament in 2022 to urge the government to take action and bring air quality up to minimum World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.
Ella’s law would establish the right to breathe clean air as a basic human right in an attempt to stop symptoms and death from poor air quality. This would mean that public authorities must consider clean air in the way they make decisions. If you would like to see Ella’s law made official, you can get involved and sign the petition.
Air quality guidelines
For a more detailed guide to indoor air quality regulations, visit the government website.
Make sure your home is a safe space for you, your family and friends over the festive period by following our Christmas safety advice. Christmas trees, decorations and celebrations can increase the risk of a fire starting in your home. Following these Christmas safety tips and having some key safety items to hand will help to ensure you can relax and enjoy the festive season.
Christmas fire safety tips
Real Christmas trees catch fire very quickly when they start to dry out. Always stand your tree in water to keep it fresh for as long as possible and position your tree away from heat sources including open fires. Never smoke or place candles near your Christmas tree.
Keep a Water Mist Fire Extinguisher close to hand. This versatile extinguisher will quickly and effectively extinguish a Christmas tree fire as well as most other fire risks found in the home including electrical fires. Water mist extinguishers contain only deionized water and so do not leave any messy residue to clean up. They are non-toxic, so you don’t have to worry about children or pets coming into contact with the extinguishing agent.
It is also advisable to spray your real Christmas tree with fire retardant spray to prevent it from catching alight.
Christmas lights & electrical safety
Christmas tree lights (or fairy lights) can cause a fire or could trigger a spark which might ignite your Christmas tree if they are not properly maintained or used. Be careful no to overload plug sockets and extension leads. Use the electrical socket calculator if you are unsure. Check your fuses are the right type and if the bulbs blow, replace them straight away. Never leave fairy lights on when you go out or go to bed.
Replace Christmas lights straight away if you notice they are damaged or the electrical wire casing is cracked. When buying new Christmas lights, look for the CE mark to ensure they comply with European safety standards and read all labelling and instructions carefully before use. Watch the British Standards Institute Christmas light safety videos for further information.
Candles & decorations
Decorate your home with care to reduce the risk of a fire starting. Many Christmas decorations could easily catch fire so make sure they are not near heaters, open fires or candles. Never place decorations immediately above or around the fireplace when it is lit.
Place candles away from children or pets so they don’t get knocked over and ensure soft furnishing such as curtains or blankets are not nearby. Always make sure you put candles out before going to bed or leaving the house.
More than half of all accidental fires in the home are started by cooking. Usually this is because a cooker, hob or grill has been left unattended. On Christmas day, there can be a lot of distractions whilst preparing the Christmas dinner. Keep children and pets away from the stove and never leave your cooking unattended. Follow these basic cooking safety tips to ensure a fire doesn’t ruin your Christmas. Keep a fire blanket in the kitchen to quickly tackle any cooking, clothing or waste bin fires that start and have a burns kit to hand just in case anyone suffers from a burn or scold.
Never cook if you have been drinking alcohol, especially if you feel tired or drunk. Drinking alcohol causes drowsiness, slower reactions and confusion and will affect your coordination. You could fall asleep whilst cooking, and are more likely to knock pans or spill hot oil if you have reduced coordination.
Fire detection – plan ahead to stay safe
Making sure you have working smoke alarms fitted in your home prior to the Christmas period could save your life. Fit a heat alarm in the kitchen to quickly detect cooking fires without causing false alarms (heat alarms respond to a sharp increase in temperature not smoke and so will not sound if you burn the toast!). Test all alarms before Christmas and replace the alarm or battery if required. For further fire safety tips and advice tailored to your home, try the free online home fire safety check.
Carbon monoxide safety tips for Christmas
During the festive period, there could be an increased risk of carbon monoxide gas in your home. Using log burners, open fires, heaters or boilers that have not been maintained throughout the year could produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
Sweep chimneys and service gas or solid fuel appliances such as boilers, heaters or cookers prior to use during the Christmas period. Fit a carbon monoxide alarm in every room where there is a gas or solid fuel appliance, or open fire.
Carbon monoxide gas is also known as the ‘silent killer’ as it can cause death and serious illness in people and pets. Get to know the signs and symptoms of CO poisoning and share them with your friends and family. Always ensure you have a working carbon monoxide detector in your home to alert you, your household and visitors to the presence of this dangerous gas.
Wishing you a happy and healthy Christmas!
Consider this advice during your festive preparations in December to keep you, your family, friends and pets safe. Why not share our Christmas safety tips with others using the share buttons below? We wish you all a happy and healthy Christmas and new year!
How do I keep my pet safe at Christmas?
Christmas can be an exciting or anxious time for pets due to a change in routine, an increase in noise and people, and lots of new and interesting objects to stimulate the senses! Follow the RSPCA’s advice on keeping pets calm at Christmas and keep candles and decorations out of reach. Never leave your pet unattended near heaters or open fires and keep them out of the kitchen when you are cooking to avoid any mishaps or distractions.
Why are Christmas trees a fire hazard?
Real Christmas trees can catch fire very quickly especially when they start to dry out. Buy your real tree closer to Christmas so it doesn’t dry out too much and keep it well watered at the base. Artificial Christmas trees can also be a fire hazard if their flame retardant coating has worn off – check the lifespan of your artificial tree and replace if required.
Is it safe to leave Christmas tree lights on all night?
No, it is not safe to leave Christmas tree lights on all night. These lights can get hot and could start a fire. Switch Christmas tree or fairy lights off when you go to bed or leave the house.
What fire extinguisher can be used on Christmas trees?
A Water Mist Fire Extinguisher is the best fire extinguisher to have at home during the festive period. You can use a Water Mist Extinguisher to tackle all common household fires including fires involving Christmas trees and fairy lights. This type of extinguisher dispenses a fine de-ionised water mist. This is non-toxic and will not leave any messy residue to clean up.
From the 1st October 2023, new legislationcame into effect that states it is now a legal requirement for all businesses, including holiday home owners, to record a fire risk assessment.
Does my holiday home need a fire risk assessment?
If you have a small let property (that is not let as a principal residence), then the law applies to you. You need to ensure that a Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) is carried out. Plus, you must also keep records of the FRA so that these can be checked.
You can complete one yourself, but you should read through the guidance notes carefully and understand the implications. If you do not feel confident to complete one then you can employ the services of a fire risk assessor. They will go through the potential risks and findings with you so you know what actions you need to take.
How do I carry out a fire risk assessment?
You will need to look at your property and identify all the things that could be a fire risk. Look at how to reduce those risks and quickly alert the occupants of danger. The fire escape routes should be maintained to allow guests to safely evacuate.
The main areas of risk that will need to be looked at are:
Electrical installations and equipment
Furniture and Furnishings
It is also important to think about the type of guests you will have in your property. The very young and old or people with a physical, visual or auditory impairment may need additional equipment to alert them of danger.
What fire safety equipment does my holiday home need?
It is important that you ensure that contractors are competent to carry out the work, as the ultimate responsibility for compliance of their work with fire safety legislation rests with you.
Remember, as holiday home owners, taking the time to carry out and act on your fire risk assessment protects you, your guests, your premises and your business.
How often do I have to check for fire risks?
It is good practice that between lets you check the property and go through each of the main areas to ensure there is no damage to electrical appliances. Also, check if any fire safety equipment has been removed or damaged as you will need to replace these before you can let out the property again.
Gas boilers should be checked annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer. If you have open fires or log burners these should be swept annually especially before their first use as the weather turns cooler.
A fire risk assessment should be carried out annually. However, if there has been substantial building work or if there has been a fire then it will be necessary to do this before letting out the property again.
It is a legal requirement for businesses to ensure that they can evacuate all occupants of their building, both employees and visitors, in an emergency. The Regulatory Reform Order 2005 states that safe and effective means of escape must be available to all building users. The Equality Act 2010 highlights the importance of recognising the individual needs of people with disabilities. Responsible persons therefore have a legal duty to install evacuation devices if they are, or could be, required.
Unless the lift is suitable for emergency use, anyone who would normally use it due to mobility issues will need an evacuation chair. Other individuals may also need support to reach safety. Not all disabilities are visible, and evacuation chairs can provide a lifeline for people in a variety of circumstances.
Employees with a long-term illness
Some people with long-term illnesses, such as MS, Parkinsons, and COPD, may need support to evacuate. Employees with long-term illnesses may not always need mobility support, but flare-ups could occur that mean support is required. Personal emergency evacuation plans (PEEPs) for these employees should reflect the needs of individuals on a case-by-case basis, and be updated as circumstances change.
People with injuries
Temporary injuries, such as fractures, may prevent someone who is usually fully mobile from being able to evacuate. Injuries which limit mobility should be addressed with temporary PEEPs. Actions to ensure the safety of the individual must be taken. It may be possible to provide the injured person with a ground floor office to enable independent evacuation. If this is not possible, an alternative option for evacuation such as an evacuation chair should be considered.
People recovering from illness
People recovering from illness or surgery may have limited mobility, and therefore need support to evacuate. Employers should conduct back-to-work interviews to determine whether an evacuation chair will be required to meet the needs of any employee returning to work following serious illness or surgery.
People with autism or other learning difficulties
Neurodivergence affects everyone differently. Some people with autism or another learning difficulty may never need support to evacuate a building. Some may sometimes need support, and others may always need support. PEEPs should be in place for employees who could or would need support due to anxiety, overwhelm, and distress caused by an emergency. PEEPs will also reveal whether an evacuation chair is suitable or could be required.
Due to stress, exhaustion, or limited mobility, evacuation chairs may be required to meet the safety needs of pregnant people. This is particularly important for buildings with multiple flights of stairs. Ongoing risk assessments for pregnant employees should reflect whether mobility support might be required in an emergency.
Partially sighted people
Some people with visual impairments may be able to use the stairs day-to-day, but would not feel comfortable doing so in an emergency due to crowds or smoke. Installing evacuation chairs to support partially sighted people to get to safety should be a consideration.
Bariatric people may struggle to descend stairs safely in an emergency, even if they usually take the stairs. A PEEP should be in place for any employee identified as vulnerable during a fire drill, or through self-identification. This will reveal whether a specialist bariatric evacuation chair is required.
Older people may have visual impairments, frailty, Alzheimer’s or complex health problems which limit their mobility, and ability to evacuate quickly. In public buildings such as shops, museums and community centres, as well as offices which take visitors, an evacuation chair could be required to assist with the evacuation of older people. It is reasonable to assume that visitors to public buildings would have enough mobility to use an evacuation chair. However, in a hospital or care setting, evacuation sheets should be installed for those who are bed bound, and would not be able to use a chair.
Safe Evacuation Plan
In conclusion, if it is possible that someone entered the building with a mobility aid which would not operate in the event of a fire, like a lift or escalators, you should be prepared to evacuate them with an evacuation device. PEEPs should identify requirements of employees or known building users with additional support needs, and individual needs must be met. In public buildings where the number of people needing support to evacuate is unknown, this needs to be factored into the GEEP (General Emergency Evacuation Plan). Ultimately, personal circumstances change, and anyone could need an evacuation device at short notice, so PEEPS & GEEPS should be regularly revised. Installing at least one evacuation chair in your building prepares your organisation for the safe evacuation of everyone inside.