Why is carbon monoxide dangerous? Advice to students

As a student, it may be the very first time that you are living away from home and you will have just settled into your new accommodation. Many things may be on your mind and the safety of your new room may not be one of them; after all, isn’t that covered by the landlord? While landlords have the full responsibility to ensure that the rooms they rent out are fully compliant, news articles would suggest that this is not always the case and that some landlords are failing to meet their responsibilities.

It is always worth checking that the basics have been ticked off; are smoke alarms and fire extinguishers installed, in date and serviced? What about carbon monoxide? what do you know about this gas and do you need protection from it? Knowing about the dangers of carbon monoxide could save your life.

What is Carbon monoxide (CO) and how will it affect you?

Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that when breathed in will attach to your red blood cells, reducing the amount of oxygen that is carried around your body. Low levels of CO over a long period can have devastating effects on your health, such as causing damage to nerves and brain as well as affecting your heart. Being exposed to high levels of CO can cause sudden unconsciousness and death.

What do you need to look out for?

University students should ensure that they know the signs and symptoms of CO poisoning, it could save their life.

You can’t see, smell or taste carbon monoxide and that is why the only way to know if this poisonous gas is present is to install a carbon monoxide detector. Having a detector that will give an audible signal if CO is present means you will get alerted even when asleep.

The symptoms of CO poisoning are very similar to flu (and hangovers!) and as such a CO leak may go undetected. The main symptoms are persistent headaches, dizziness, nausea/vomiting, stomach pains, difficulty breathing, tiredness, confusion, and sudden collapse. If your symptoms get better when you leave your accommodation and go outside that is another indicator that CO may be causing your symptoms.

How can you protect yourself?

As a student, you are most likely living in either University accommodation or a privately rented room in a shared house. Check to see if your accommodation has a carbon monoxide alarm installed. This is important if you have appliances that use fuels such as gas, oil, and wood as CO is produced from the incomplete burning of fossil fuels. If you use a fuel appliance, such as a cooker or fire, and don’t have a CO alarm fitted ask your landlord or University accommodation department to install one. It is their legal duty to provide a CO alarm for you if there is fuel used within the building.

Do you need a CO detector if you don’t have any fuel burning appliances?

Yes, it is recommended that even if you don’t have any fossil fuel appliances in your accommodation that you have at least one CO detector fitted. Carbon monoxide can seep through walls and as such you are at risk of CO poisoning from your neighbour.

Is there anything else you should look out for?

You should check that all your appliances, such as cookers, fires, and boilers are serviced every year. This is the responsibility of your landlord and a legal requirement. Ask to see the annual certificates or reports if you can’t see an in-date sticker on the appliance. If your landlord can’t produce them then insist that the service is carried out again.

In between the annual service or checks keep your eyes open for any telltale signs that the appliance isn’t working properly. These may include soot marks around the appliance, excessive condensation in the room, lazy yellow or orange coloured flames instead of a bright blue one. If you notice any of these signs inform your landlord immediately and ask for the appliance to be checked.

What do you do if carbon monoxide is detected?

If you suspect that carbon monoxide is leaking into your accommodation the first thing to do is open doors and windows to let in fresh air and ventilate the room. Turn off the appliance if safe to do so and contact the emergency services:

Gas Emergency Services (24 hours) 0800 111 999

Solid Fuel Advice Line 01773 835400

Oil (OFTEC) 01473 626298

Ambulance 999

For more information and advice on how to stay safe visit: https://www.carbonmonoxideinfo.co.uk/

*All telephone numbers were correct at time of publishing

Where can you buy a carbon monoxide alarm?

There is a wide range of carbon monoxide alarms available for different budgets, with optional features such as sealed lithium batteries that last the full lifespan of the sensor or digital screens that show the current and peak level of CO measured in the air.

Digital Carbon Monoxide Alarm - Kidde 5DCO
  • FREE delivery
  • Product Life: 10 years
  • Battery: AA batteries included
  • Warranty: 7 year warranty
  • Displays CO levels from 10ppm
  • Peak Level Memory - recalls highest CO levels
  • CE Marked
  • Kitemarked to BS EN 50291-1:2010 (domestic use)
£15.36 inc VAT
£12.80 ex VAT
Buy Now
Angie Dewick-Eisele

Angie Dewick-Eisele

Marketing Manager

Angie has been our marketing manager since joining in 2002. She also has a keen interest in H&S issues.

Safelincs Sponsor National Boat CO Awareness Campaign

Spreading awareness about carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning among the boating community is important to protect boaters and to save lives. CO is a deadly gas created by incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and wood and boaters are at risk where their fossil fuel appliances don’t burn properly or where CO fumes are blown back into boats. It is not possible to detect this deadly gas with human senses as it does not have any colour, taste or smell.

We are proud to to announce that Safelincs have teamed up with TBS Boats Ltd, one of the UK’s leading boat sellers, in support of their CO initiative and the national awareness campaign boatcosafe.uk.

‘Following a number of cases of CO poisoning on boats in recent years TBS Boats Ltd have decided to launch an initiative to fit a CO alarm to every boat we sell, new and used, free-of-charge, raising awareness with boat owners.’ said Dominic Smulders, Managing Director, TBS Boats Limited. He went on to sayWe are pleased to be supporting a national awareness campaign with boatcosafe.uk and have partnered with Safelincs, one of the UK’s largest fire safety retailers as one of the initiatives of this campaign.’

Safelincs have designed and printed awareness stickers that will be distributed to boat owners, highlighting the symptoms of CO poisoning, which can often be mistaken for a cold or flu as well as having a bespoke CO boat page on our website.

For more information visit www.safelincs.co.uk/bco

Angie Dewick-Eisele

Angie Dewick-Eisele

Marketing Manager

Angie has been our marketing manager since joining in 2002. She also has a keen interest in H&S issues.

Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed! campaign 2011 launch

Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed! is the national campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide and to encourage people to install an audible carbon monoxide alarm in their homes. Funding is received through Britain’s six major gas and electricity companies and is also supported by a range of organisations and charities, including Safelincs Ltd.

This year has seen distressing reports in the media of several campers tragically dying from carbon monoxide poisoning in their tents. These unnecessary deaths highlight that many people are still not aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide or how carbon monoxide poisoning can occur. It is hoped that through the Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed! campaign that these issues will be addressed and the number of deaths due to this poisonous gas will be reduced.  Shockingly, one in ten people do not even know that there are alarms available to detect carbon monoxide.

If you have any appliance in your home that uses a combustible fuel, such as a gas boiler, cooker or a wood burner, you could be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. If you do not have an alarm you will have no way of knowing if carbon monoxide is being leaked into your home. This gas has no colour,  odour or taste and the common symptoms experienced are very similar to a cold or flue (headaches, tiredness, dizziness and nausea) and therefore go undiagnosed. If there is a high level of carbon monoxide present you may be rendered unconscious in minutes.

In support of the Be Alarmed! campaign we are offering a Kidde carbon monoxide alarm at a reduced price of £14.99 inc VAT. This alarm has a 5  year warranty, test button and is battery operated.

To view a selection of carbon monoxide alarms available at Safelincs go to https://www.safelincs.co.uk/battery-operated-carbon-monoxide-detectors/

Fire service issue reminder about carbon monoxide

After several devastating deaths over the summer reported to be due to carbon monoxide poisoning the fire brigade have again alerted the public to the dangers of carbon monoxide.

As we now enter the autumn months and evening temperatures start to drop people are beginning to start up their central heating and put their fires on. It is essential that after a prolonged period of not being used appliances are checked and flues are cleared from any blockages.

Gas boilers and fires should be serviced every year and homes with open fires or wood burning stoves should ensure that chimneys are swept annually too.  Failure to carry out these simple steps could result in carbon monoxide being present and occupants becoming unwell or even dying from carbon monoxide poisoning.

This warning comes after another case was highlighted where a woman was lucky to escape with her life, her two pet birds, however, were not so lucky and tragically died.

Ensure that the engineer who services your gas appliances is registered to do so. Ask to see his/her identification card or alternatively you can get information on who is Gas Safe registered from www.gassaferegister.co.uk/about/gas_safe_registered_engineers.aspx

To view the full report: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hereford-worcester-15004315

Carbon monoxide alarm alerts family

A Lincolnshire family escaped the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning thanks to the carbon monoxide alarm they had installed after moving into a listed Georgian  house.

The couple knew that the oil boiler that was in the property was old but after having it serviced they felt reassured that there was no possibility of the boiler malfunctioning.  Luckily some friends who had moved the previous year to find an aged boiler in place encouraged them to buy a carbon monoxide alarm. As a result they purchased a carbon monoxide alarm from Safelincs shortly after moving into their new home.

The alarm did not go off when first installed in the boiler room but as the weather got warmer the family turned the boiler off. There was then a drop in temperature and the boiler was turned on again to fire up the central heating. It was then that the alarm began to sound.

Above the boiler room was the bedroom of their youngest daughter and as carbon monoxide can seep through bricks and flooring, a potentially life threatening situation could have ensued had the carbon monoxide leak not been detected immediately.

Mrs G wrote, Thanks again for ‘saving our lives!’

‘Still working, but at the end of its serviceable life’, was the description the surveyor gave of the ancient oil-fired boiler in our newly bought Georgian house. Friends recommended that we install a Carbon Monoxide alarm and we were relieved when the alarm did not sound when the boiler was first switched on. We decided to keep the boiler while it was still working for our first Winter in the house. However, three months later we were woken by the loud sounding of the alarm and discovered that the boiler had started leaking Carbon Monoxide. We feel eternally grateful to our friends for making us aware of the silent killer in our midst and are now looking to replace the boiler as soon as possible.

Don’t leave detecting carbon monoxide to luck. Install a carbon monoxide alarm today.

Carbon monoxide poisoning, how to diagnose this silent killer

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are very similar to that of a general cold or flu and as a result can not only be overlooked by the sufferer but can also result in a misdiagnosis by your GP.

The main symptoms suffered are headaches, nausea and vomiting, vertigo type symptoms, an alteration in consciousness and lethargy. The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning increase as the cold weather begins and fires and heating systems are put back into service after the summer.

There is one very significant factor to consider if you have any of the symptoms above but are unsure if it is a cold, flu or indeed due to carbon monoxide being present. The symptoms from carbon monoxide can subside and even disappear when you are not in the area where the carbon monoxide is present. You may notice that when you go out to the shops or to work that your symptoms are much better but shortly after returning home the symptoms increase again. Cold and flu symptoms usually last no longer than a week; if your symptoms continue after this period consider the possibility that it could be as a result of carbon monoxide.

If you suspect that your symptoms could be due to carbon monoxide, act swiftly. Alert your doctor of your suspicions, contact either your gas supplier if you have gas appliances or alternatively contact your local council who can advise you who you need to call. Carbon monoxide can be produced by the incomplete combustion of all fossil fuel, gas, oil, coal, coke and wood. Carbon monoxide alarms are also available which will alert you should the levels of carbon monoxide rise above acceptable levels.

Carbon monoxide on holiday

The tragic death of two young children that occurred as the result of a faulty boiler installation in Corfu in 2006 has been highlighted again as two Thomas Cook employees appeared in court accused of manslaughter.

The deaths of Christianne and Robert Shepherd, aged seven and six, was caused through carbon monoxide leaking from a boiler and seeping through the walls of their holiday bungalow in Corfu.

Carbon monoxide is a colourless and odourless gas that occurs from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. It is essential to have appliances checked on a yearly basis to ensure that they are in good working order and are not emitting this poisonous gas.

Alarms are available to help detect if carbon monoxide is present, enabling the occupants to escape before the gas renders them unconcious. These devices are inexpensive and can be taken with you when you go on holiday, giving you piece of mind wherever you are.

You can read more about the current prosecution against Thomas Cook’s employees.

100,000th CO detector distributed for Kirklees

Bafe Certified

Since the start of Kirklees’ Warm Zone project, Safelincs have distributed 100,000  carbon monoxide  alarms to households in Kirklees. The campaign has been very successful, with one resident detecting carbon monoxide as soon as she turned her new Carbon monoxide detector on. Her husband had not been well, feeling sleepy and tired all the time. She too had been suffering from headaches. After the appliances were checked in the home it was discovered that there was a major carbon monoxide leak. This couple were lucky to detect the presence of the carbon monoxide before it was too late.

The Warm Zone CO alarm project in Kirklees finishes in June and Kirklees council are urging residents to contact the Warm Zone scheme if they have not yet registered for a free carbon monoxide alarm. Do not miss out on this free alarm that could save your life.