CO vs CO2

What is the difference between CO and CO2?

CO (carbon monoxide) and CO2 (carbon dioxide) are both colourless, odourless gasses. However, they are chemically different: CO is one oxygen atom bound to one carbon atom, while CO2 is two oxygen atoms bound to one carbon atom.

CO2 is a product of many natural processes in the human body, and is safe at normal levels. Due to the similarity in their chemical structure, however, CO is a dangerous gas, toxic even at low levels.

Chemical diagram: CO (Carbon and Oxygen) vs CO2 (Carbon and two Oxygen)
Chemical structure of CO vs CO2

What is CO?

Carbon Monoxide is released during ‘incomplete combustion’. This usually happens when a fuel, such as coal, wood, or oil, is burned without enough oxygen present. This deadly gas is dangerous even at very low levels. Because its molecules are very similar in structure to CO2, they bind to red blood cells in the body and become ‘stuck’. As a result, the amount of oxygen that can be transported to the body’s essential organs is reduced. This lack of oxygen can cause fatigue, breathlessness, headaches, and eventually death.

Levels as low as 50ppm (parts per million) will cause harm, particularly with prolonged exposure, while 700ppm can quickly be fatal.

Any level of CO therefore warrants concern, which can only be detected with a working carbon monoxide detector.

What is CO2?

Carbon Dioxide is released by many natural chemical processes, including combustion, respiration, and decomposition. CO2 is used to give fizzy drinks their bubbles, and as a medium in some fire extinguishers. It’s also present in the air we breathe, where it safe at normal levels (under 800ppm). However, at extreme levels, CO2 can cause asphyxiation by reducing the level of oxygen available.

CO & CO2 can both cause headaches
Both CO and CO2 can cause headaches

CO2 and indoor air quality

Although carbon dioxide is naturally present in the air, high levels can have negative effects on human health. Poor ventilation in an enclosed environment can lead to raised CO2 levels. This often leads to headaches, fatigue, and poor concentration. Safe indoor levels are below 800ppm; in classrooms, offices, and other public venues, levels can easily reach over 1000ppm.

You can improve indoor air quality by opening windows to improve ventilation, installing air purifiers, and reducing damp / humidity with dehumidifiers. Measuring CO2 levels with an indoor air quality monitor is the best way to track this, and know when improvements need to be made. 

Detecting CO vs CO2

Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed to detect the presence of CO. Without this, it is impossible to detect the presence of this deadly gas, which is dangerous even at low levels. A CO alarm with a digital display allows users to monitor levels which are too low to trigger the alarm, encouraging them to improve ventilation.

Carbon Dioxide detectors have traditionally been used in commercial premises like breweries or laboratories, where fatal levels of CO2 might be released by chemical reactions. While CO2 poisoning is unlikely to happen in a home environment, however, new technology has made these detectors more affordable and accessible. CO2 monitors are now recommended in schools, offices, and even homes to track and improve indoor air quality.

10 Year Life Digital Carbon Monoxide Alarm - UltraFire UBCO1D
UltraFire Digital Display CO detector
CO2 detector
Kidde CO2/Air Quality Monitor

For information about detecting gas leaks, visit our blog.

CO vs CO2: both are colourless, odourless gasses, which pose different health risks. The only way to stay safe from these gasses is to make sure you have the appropriate detector fitted. For additional support in selecting the best detector for your needs, contact our friendly customer support team on 0800 612 6537.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning When Camping or Caravanning

Each year when camping or caravanning there are serious illnesses or even death from the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. Most of these could have been prevented if the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) had been more widely known and some simple preventative steps taken. In the UK around 50 people die and 200 people are hospitalised, while not all of these people will have been camping, the risks are significantly higher. As the gas is odourless and colourless there is no way to detect if the gas is present. The gas makes you drowsy and can make you unable to respond to other warning signs such as headaches and nausea.

Because tents and caravans are a confined space, the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning is greater. Therefore, having an audible CO alarm is an essential item to put on your packing list.

The Kidde 7DCO CO Alarm for caravans and motorhomes

Sources of carbon monoxide poisoning when camping or caravanning

Gas or coal fired cooking appliances, such as BBQ’s, are sometimes bought inside tents or caravan awnings to provide warmth or to cook. Which can fill the space up quickly with carbon monoxide gas, a by-product when burning a fossil fuel. The gas then renders the occupants unconscious and death can occur as a result.

Carbon monoxide gas can be produced due to faulty, poorly maintained or improper installation of gas appliances in caravans. It is important to ensure fuel burning appliances fitted by a qualified installer. Solid fuel appliances must be maintained and serviced annually by a reputable, registered engineer.

Carbon monoxide detectors for camping and caravanning

If you have already fitted a CO detector, ensure that you carry out your pre-holiday safety checks. This should include checking or replacing the batteries and testing smoke, heat and CO alarms. It is also advisable to check when your alarms need replacing. Sensors in these types of alarms become less effective over time and will need to be replaced after 10 years.

Not all carbon monoxide alarms are suitable for use in caravans or motorhomes. Choosing a suitable alarm is important because if the CO alarm you have isn’t recommended for use in camping environments, you may not be alerted to dangerous levels of CO gas. Choose an alarm that is:

  • Kitemarked to British Standard BS EN50291-2
  • Certified for use in caravans
  • Suitable for wall mounting
  • Battery operated
  • CE marked

What to do if my Carbon Monoxide alarm goes off?

CO detectors, or carbon monoxide alarms, are essential for the detection of a deadly gas, carbon monoxide (CO). This gas cannot be seen, tasted or smelt and is only detected with the use of co detectors. It is produced through the incomplete combustion of fuel, such as gas, wood, coal and oil. If your carbon monoxide alarm is going off, do not assume it is a false alarm.

What to do when your carbon monoxide alarm is going off

You should assume that there is CO present and should follow these steps to ensure your safety.

  • Stay calm, open doors and windows to increase ventilation
  • Where safe to do so, turn off any fuel-burning appliance
  • Leave the premises and notify other occupants of the potential carbon monoxide leak (you should also notify any occupant of premises adjoined to your home as CO can seep through walls and floors
  • Call Gas Emergency Services 0800 111 999 or a local Gas Safe Registered Engineer to check for the source of carbon monoxide
  • Get medical help for anyone suffering from symptoms of CO poisoning

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

The main symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are:

Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms: persistent headaches

Persistent Headaches

Having persistent dull headaches and tension type headaches.

Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms: dizziness

Dizziness

Having waves of dizziness or feeling light headed and off balance.

Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms: nausea/vomiting

Nausea / Vomiting

Feeling like you need to be sick (nausea) and actually being sick (vomiting).

Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms: stomach pains

Stomach Pains

Pains in your stomach or lower abdomen, sometimes accompanied by diarrhoea.

Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms: difficulty breathing

Difficulty Breathing

Sudden shortness of breath or difficulty breathing (dyspnoea).

Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms: tiredness

Tiredness

Having no energy or feeling tired, sleepy, lethargic and sluggish.

Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms: sudden collapse

Sudden Collapse

Sudden collapse, seizures or loss of consciousness.

Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms: confusion

Confusion

Confusion, difficulty concentrating and becoming easily irritated.

What causes CO detector false alarms?

A false alarm is when your CO detector alarms and where no carbon monoxide is detected by your engineer. There could be several reasons for this, which can often be easily resolved:

Cause of alarmWhat to do
The carbon monoxide detected did not come from your own appliances but may have seeped through the walls or floor from a neighbour.Check if your neighbours have fuel-burning appliances that might emit carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide might escape from chimney stacks allowing the toxic gas to enter your premises via a joint loft space.
The replace-by date may have been exceeded.Most CO alarms are only effective for 5-10 years. Once expired, they can sound erratically, or not sound when they should, The expiry date for each unit can be found on the information sticker on the back of the unit.
Excessive moisture from a bathroom may set off your CO alarm.CO alarms can be corrupted by steam, and therefore shouldn’t be installed in bathrooms. If your CO alarm is repeatedly triggered by steam, it may become ineffective, and should be replaced.
Lead acid battery chargers produce hydrogen gas which sets off CO detectors.If you are charging your caravan or boat battery at home, this could set off your CO alarm. Once you have made sure that the alarm is false, it is safe to ignore the alarm in this scenario, but remain vigilant for other signs. If this happens often, invest in a CO alarm with a digital display to assess the level of risk when the alarm sounds.
Freshly screeded floors emit a gas that sets off carbon monoxide alarms.If your floors have just been screeded, and you have made sure that the alarm is false, it is safe to ignore the alarm in this scenario, but remain vigilant for other signs.
The carbon monoxide alarm that you have installed may not be suitable for the type of premisesFor example if it is installed in a caravan, tent, boat or living quarters of a horsebox you will need to ensure that your alarm is Kitemarked to BS EN50291-2. Alarms tested to BS EN50291-1 are only for use in home environments and are not suitable for camping and caravanning.
Smoking indoorsA heavy smoker in a poorly ventilated room the CO from smoking may trigger an alarm. It is recommended to open a window if possible to improve ventilation. If this happens often, invest in a CO alarm with a digital display to assess the level of risk when the alarm sounds.
Homes that are adjacent to very busy roads may experience higher levels of CO in the home when windows are open as traffic fumes may enter the room and set your alarm off.If this causes persistent false alarms, invest in a digital CO alarm, allowing you to see a live CO reading. You can then determine the level of risk. For example, if the reading is high, there is probably a leak. However, if it has just tipped over the threshold due to air pollution, the alarm can be ignored/silenced without having to get an engineer in to check for a leak.
The sound that your alarm is making may not be the alarm sound to alert you that there are dangerous levels of CO present.Most alarms have several audible sounds to indicate things such as low battery warning or that there is a fault with the alarm. Keep the manual safe so that you can refer to it should the alarm go off.

Buying a CO detector

You should have a carbon monoxide detector in every room where there is a solid fuel burning appliance. Only chose CO detectors that have met the rigorous testing standards of the European standard EN50291. These alarms provide peace of mind that this vital alarm has been manufactured and tested to the highest standards. Moreover, investing in a CO detector with a digital display also provides peace of mind, as it allows you to assess the situation when an alarm goes off. This is particularly useful if you have had persistent false alarms due to pollution, smoking, or other external factors, as it allows you to check the reading to assess the level of risk before calling an engineer to check for a leak.

For more information about taking a carbon monoxide detector on holiday, read our blog on this ultimate travel essential, and what to do if you detect a leak.

Kidde Carbon Monoxide Alarm - 7DCO / 7DCOC
Kidde Carbon Monoxide Alarm - 7DCO / 7DCOC
  • Product Life: 10 years
  • Battery: replaceable AA alkaline batteries included
  • Warranty: 10 year warranty
  • Displays CO levels from 10ppm
  • Peak Level Memory - recalls highest CO levels
  • Ideal for domestic use and camping, caravans & boats
  • Kitemarked to BS EN50291-1 and BS EN50291-2
  • Also suitable for the 2022 Welsh legislation
£15.21 ex VAT
£18.25 inc VAT
Buy Now

If you are unsure if you have the correct carbon monoxide alarm installed our customer care team are here to help. You can call them on 0800 612 6537 or email support@safelincs.co.uk.

Angie Dewick-Eisele

Director

Angie Dewick-Eisele is co-founder of Safelincs Ltd, one of the leading fire safety providers in the UK. Angie was Marketing Manager for many years and as Director is these days responsible for Content Management.

Is Your Home Gas Safe?

Gas boilers, heaters, fires and cookers are common in households across the UK. However, many people are unaware of the dangers of poor maintenance of this type of appliance. Is your home gas safe?

Dangerous gas appliances

Faulty gas appliances can produce toxic carbon monoxide gas as a result of incomplete combustion. Carbon monoxide is odourless and colourless meaning that without a detector, its presence cannot be identified. Even if your gas burning appliances are regularly serviced by a qualified engineer, it is possible for faults to occur. Alongside maintaining household appliances, the best way to keep your home gas safe is to install a CO alarm.

Carbon Monoxide emissions from a poorly fitted, poorly ventilated or faulty gas appliance can be deadly. On average, 50 people in the UK are killed each year by CO poisoning, with 4,000 admitted to hospital. There are also an unknown number of people who have suffered some degree of carbon monoxide poisoning, and either do not report it or are mis-diagnosed as the symptoms are very similar to common flu.

Dangers of unqualified gas fitters

The Gas Safe Register has highlighted the dangers of unqualified fitters, reporting that when inspected by a registered Gas Safe Engineer, 79% of boilers originally installed by unqualified fitters are putting occupants at risk, or are classified as immediately dangerous. Similar statistics published by Gas Safety Week show that half of all gas fires inspected by a registered Gas Safe Engineer are unsafe.

The Gas Safe Register logo is a recognisable yellow triangle.
The Gas Safe Register logo is recognisable

Maintaining gas appliances

If you have a gas appliance, you should have it serviced every year. Always ensure that repairs or new installations are only carried out by a qualified and registered Gas Safe Engineer. Regular servicing is the best way to prevent faults, and keep your family safe from deadly CO gas. Check to see if loved ones and vulnerable friends or neighbours have an up to date gas safety certificate.

Remember to check whether the engineer in your home appears on the gas safety register before allowing them to start work.
Only registered Gas Safe engineers should service the gas burning appliances in your home

The Gas Safety watch dog is urging consumers to always check the credentials of any gas fitter. This should always be done before allowing them to do any work on a gas appliance. They are also asking the public to inform them of any rogue installers who are claiming to be qualified, but do not appear on the Gas Safety Register.

Get gas safe – Importance of installing CO alarms

You should always install a carbon monoxide alarm to protect your household from the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, especially because carbon monoxide can travel through adjoining walls. Therefore, even if you don’t have any gas appliances, or are certain that every appliance in your home is gas safe, a detector is the only way to have complete peace of mind.

Many detectors have a long life, and so remain reliable for up to a decade. With options for audio and visual cues, there is an alarm suitable for everyone. Check that every CO alarm in your home is marked BS EN 50291 and displays the British Standards’ Kitemark. If you can’t see these markings, or need to replace an old device, you can find a selection of CO alarms on our website that are suitable for use at home.

Does a Carbon Monoxide Detector Detect Gas?

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.

Faulty gas boilers can release CO, while gas leaks are caused by damaged pipes
A carbon monoxide alarm will not detect gas leaks

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).

Carbon Monoxide alarm will not detect gas leaks
A digital CO alarm will display current CO levels at all times

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:

For more information about the dangers of Carbon Monoxide, and what to do if you are being exposed, read ‘Do I need a Carbon Monoxide alarm?’.

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.

Do I Need A Carbon Monoxide Alarm?

Carbon monoxide (CO) gas is impossible to detect without an alarm and exposure can have serious health implications. Over 100 people in the UK have died from CO poisoning each year since 2010. The importance of having a CO alarm in your home should not be underestimated.

Install a CO alarm in your home to protect your family from the 'Silent Killer'
CO has no taste or smell – without a detector in your home, you cannot know if you are at risk

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO), also known as the Silent Killer, is a colourless, tasteless and odourless gas. Highly poisonous to humans and animals, carbon monoxide is produced when fuels are burnt without enough oxygen present. Common sources of CO include faulty gas cookers, gas boilers, chimneys and log burners.

Do I need a CO alarm?

CO is impossible to detect without a carbon monoxide alarm. Having your appliances properly serviced and maintained each year is important but it is not a guarantee that you will be safe. Faults can, and do develop between inspections, potentially exposing you and your family to this deadly gas.

If you’re a home owner without a CO alarm, you should strongly consider investing in one to protect your household. Even if your home is supplied and heated only with electrical appliances, the gas can travel through walls. Therefore, your neighbours’ appliances, over which you have no control, could put your home at risk. Adjoining garages that house vehicles and petrol-fuelled equipment such as lawnmowers can also be a source of CO.

In Scotland, it is mandatory for every home to have a carbon monoxide alarm where there is a carbon fuelled appliance or flue. Find out more about the Scottish carbon monoxide alarm regulations.

If you’re a tenant, landlords are legally required to provide CO detection, although the level of protection differs for each country in the UK.

What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?
The symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to common illnesses – nausea, headaches, fatigue, weakness, and dizziness can be easily overlooked.

How do I know if I have CO poisoning?

This deadly gas starts with subtle symptoms, which can quickly become fatal if ignored. Headaches, dizziness, nausea, weakness, confusion, shortness of breath and chest and muscle pain are the most common signs. They may be intermittent, but get worse the longer the victim is exposed to CO.

Having a CO alarm will alert you to any potential carbon monoxide exposure, and is the only way to know for certain if you are in danger. The symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to many other common illnesses, and can easily be overlooked.

If you think you have been exposed to CO, you should switch off appliances you think might be making carbon monoxide if possible. Open as many doors and windows as possible to improve air circulation, and leave the building as quickly as you can. Get medical advice immediately, and do not return to the building until you are certain that it is safe to do so.

What CO alarm should I choose?

Carbon monoxide alarms are affordable and do not require any wiring or installation.

Every device in our CO alarm range is certified to BS EN 50291 Part 1. This defines the standard that CO alarms must be made to for use in the home. We also stock a range that are suitable for camping, caravans and travel when gas cookers and heaters are commonly used (these alarms are certified to BS EN50291-2).

For improved peace of mind, an alarm with a digital display, such as the Kidde 5DCO carbon monoxide alarm, will enable you to see exactly what levels of CO are in your home. That way you can easily spot any issues before CO levels become dangerously high.

Protect your family with a CO alarm

Carbon monoxide poisoning: What are the Symptoms?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is often referred to as ‘The Silent Killer’ because you can’t smell, hear or see it. It is a highly toxic gas which can have devastating consequences on your health. With over 4000 people attending A&E departments due to carbon monoxide poisoning in England each year, knowing the symptoms could save your life.

The Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide can cause severe symptoms and even death if not detected quickly. CO poisoning symptoms are very similar to that of a common cold or flu, which is a big reason why mild symptoms can also be mistaken for a hangover. Protect yourself and others from carbon monoxide by looking out for these symptoms:

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

Effects of Carbon Monoxide Exposure

Severe Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Severe carbon monoxide poisoning may lead to long-term neurological problems, with disturbances in memory, language, cognition, mood and behaviour. This causes damage to the basal ganglia, which may lead to a movement disorder resembling Parkinson’s disease.

Delayed deterioration in neurological condition is an unusual feature of severe carbon monoxide poisoning. This can occur any time from a few days to as long as five to six weeks after the initial exposure to carbon monoxide. The reason for this is not entirely clear.

Long-term Carbon Monoxide Exposure

Chronic exposure to lower levels of carbon monoxide may go unrecognised. The symptoms include milder versions of those seen in acute CO poisoning. Headache, nausea, dizziness, light-headedness, fatigue and sleepiness, difficulty concentrating and memory problems, as well as changes in mood are all symptoms of this.

People are often unable to identify exactly what is the matter despite being aware that something is wrong. They may attribute the problems to overwork, stress or depression. If symptoms disappear while away at work and reappear on returning home, or if other people in the same premises develop similar symptoms, it may become more obvious that there is an environmental cause.

Removing the source of carbon monoxide results in most people recovering from chronic low-level carbon monoxide exposure. However, it can also lead to the brain being starved from oxygen. This can have devastating short term and long term effects.

Treatment for CO Poisoning

Treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning involves immediate removal of the carbon monoxide source, and administration of 100% oxygen together with general supportive medical care.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is sometimes advocated for severe cases of carbon monoxide poisoning. This involves giving your lungs much more oxygen than would be possible by breathing pure oxygen at normal air pressure. It has been suggested that this may improve the long-term neurological outcome, although it remains controversial. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a specialised technique which is only available in a few centres. It may also be associated with complications of its own and it is not used routinely.

Protect Yourself from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  1. Be in the know about carbon monoxide. Would you be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning? Learn how to spot the dangers, signs and symptoms of CO poisoning and help to educate those around you. Findings by the Gas Safe Register in 2019 revealed that only one in five respondents said they would be aware of a carbon monoxide leak in their homes if they felt unwell.
  2. Have your gas or solid fuel appliances serviced regularly. According to the latest UK inspection figures from Gas Safe Register, 5.5 million homes in the UK have unsafe gas appliances. When did you last have your appliance checked? If you rent, your landlord must have a gas safety certificate for all gas appliances to comply with regulations.
  3. Install a carbon monoxide alarm where required. It is recommended that a CO alarm be installed in every room in the house containing an appliance that could leak carbon monoxide gas. Is your home covered? Check with vulnerable friends, family or neighbours to see if they need help installing a carbon monoxide alarm. If you rent and you have a gas appliance, your landlord is legally required to provide a working carbon monoxide alarm.

Who is Most at Risk?

Lower income households are more at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, recent studies have shown. Research carried out by the National Energy Action charity and the Gas Safety Trust found that 35% of low income and vulnerable households surveyed exceeded the 10ppm threshold for carbon monoxide levels, indicating levels of carbon monoxide that are harmful with prolonged exposure. This can have adverse effects on the body and brain.

Over 60s were also found to be particularly vulnerable to CO poisoning. This could be attributed to the likelihood of them spending more time at home and feeling the cold, resulting in regular appliance use to stay warm. Elderly people, or those with respiratory problems, are also more at risk from the effects of carbon monoxide. They become ill more quickly, with symptoms being similar to those of flu or food poisoning, a headache, nausea and dizziness. These symptoms are usually attributed to those common illnesses rather than to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Headache or dizziness is a symptom of co poisoning
Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms can easily be mistaken for flu or a common cold or sickness bug

Other groups shown to be disproportionately affected by CO poisoning include pregnant women, young children, anyone with an existing respiratory condition and elderly people.

Carbon monoxide poisoning information sheet printable download
Download our information sheet and share with relatives or friends

Mel Saunders

Head of Marketing

Mel joined Safelincs in 2020 and leads the content and marketing team.

Are you in danger in your own home? Join the fight for a Gas Safe Nation

In light of the Covid 19 pandemic, safety is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. We all know that hand washing and basic hygiene are an essential part of life in 2020, but how many of us can be absolutely sure that our homes are gas safe? With Gas Safety Week celebrating its tenth year in 2020, it’s time to make sure that you, your friends and family are safe in your own homes.

Protect family and help them to get gas safe at home
Help loved ones and vulnerable individuals to get gas safe

Are you at risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Do you have a gas fire, gas boiler or gas oven? Frighteningly, statistics published by Gas Safety Week show that 1 in 2 gas fires inspected by a Gas Safe Engineer are unsafe. Carbon Monoxide emissions from a poorly fitted, poorly ventilated or faulty gas appliance can be deadly or have severe side effects. Carbon monoxide is odourless and colourless meaning that without a detector, it is very difficult to detect its presence.

There are 2 simple steps to follow to protect yourselves, your family and friends:

  1. Have your gas appliances checked and serviced every year by a Gas Safe Engineer. You can find a gas safety engineer near you here. Check to see if loved ones and vulnerable friends or neighbours have a gas safety certificate that is up to date.
  2. Install an audible carbon monoxide alarm and make sure your friends and relatives have one too. Check that they are marked EN50291 and display the British Standards’ Kitemark. You can find a great selection here that are suitable for use at home.

Common cold or Carbon monoxide poisoning?

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are much like those of a common cold or flu to begin with but can ultimately lead to a coma and death. Headaches, nausea, dizziness, a sore throat or dry cough are all common complaints, but could be as a result of exposure to CO gas. If friends, family or loved ones complain of these symptoms, seem confused or are drowsy and are having trouble breathing, you need to be alert. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, open all the windows and doors and leave your home immediately. Turn off any appliances that are in use and turn the gas off at the mains if you can. Call the Gas Emergency Services on 0800 111 999 as soon as you can. You should seek medical help straight away if you think that anyone in your household has carbon monoxide poisoning.

Identify symptoms of CO poisoning

Gas safety and Covid 19

There may be some nervousness about engineers visiting your home due to the spread of infection during the current pandemic. Tradesman have strict guidelines to follow set out by the government, but if you are worried you should check what measures your Gas Safe Engineer will be putting in place when he or she visits your home. It is important to proceed with your annual check if you can as you could be putting your family in danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. With some Covid 19 restrictions still in place, and many people working remotely, we are all spending more time at home. It is now as important as ever to make your home a safe place for you and your family.

Good carbon monoxide detector to use at home
Digital Display Carbon Monoxide Alarm 10 Yr Life – Kidde 5DCO

Protect loved ones with a carbon monoxide detector

If you have vulnerable or elderly friends, relatives or neighbours, why not give them peace of mind and help them to install a carbon monoxide detector? Carbon monoxide can travel through adjoining walls and so even if you are absolutely sure that all the appliances in your home are gas safe, a detector is the only way to have complete peace of mind. Many detectors have a long life and so remain reliable for long periods and with options for audio and visual cues, there is an alarm suitable for everyone. All of our Kidde battery-operated alarms are available for FREE delivery, so you can have them delivered directly to loved ones for no extra cost and with free standing options available and the battery included on many models, they can be up and running immediately on arrival. Why not browse the range here?

Gas Safety Week challenges us all to think about making our homes as safe from the dangers of gas as possible. For more information and advice, head to the gas safety week website. Or, for more information on CO alarms, please contact our customer care team on 0800 612 6537.

Mel Saunders

Head of Marketing

Mel joined Safelincs in 2020 and leads the content and marketing team.

Is Your Holiday Home Protected From The ‘Silent Killer’? Carbon Monoxide Responsibilities For Accommodation Providers

When someone books a holiday, what features do they look for? Maybe a hot tub, fire pit or log burner for that little bit of luxury? A carbon monoxide detector might not be top of the list, but with carbon monoxide (CO), or the ‘Silent Killer’ responsible for around 60 accidental deaths every year in England and Wales, ensuring your holiday accommodation is CO safe should be a priority. Did you know that as a holiday home owner in England, you have a legal responsibility to comply with regulations relating to carbon monoxide safety? Holiday-makers want to have peace of mind that their safety is a top priority when booking a holiday, and carbon monoxide safety is no exception.

Why is carbon monoxide dangerous?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a highly poisonous gas with no smell or taste and can be difficult to detect without the aid of a carbon monoxide detector. Symptoms such as tiredness, shortness of breath, nausea and headaches can be easily mistaken for flu or food poisoning. However, after exposure to high levels for 2 hours, the person may become unconscious and could die from this poisonous gas. With such sudden consequences, early detection is critical.

Accommodation providers: Your responsibilities

CO gas is produced by the incomplete burning of fuels containing carbon, for example coal, wood, gas or charcoal. A build-up in emissions of CO gas can come from:
• Faulty gas appliances
• Fuel burning stoves, open fires or BBQs used in poorly ventilated areas
• Running a car engine in an enclosed space.

Holiday Home Owners, like landlords, have a responsibility to ensure that their properties are compliant with the regulations Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015. These regulations state that a carbon monoxide detector should be fitted in any room that has a solid fuel burning appliance such as a log burner or open fire. Whilst not a legal requirement, it is also advisable to install a detector in any room with a gas or oil burning appliance such as a boiler or oven. You should also check and log all smoke and CO alarms on change-over day for added peace on mind.

The maintenance of gas appliances in all properties is also of paramount importance. The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 outlines the legal duties of self-catering accommodation providers to ensure the safety of any guests. All gas appliances should be installed and checked annually by a Gas Safe Engineer. Accommodation providers need to ensure adequate ventilation throughout the holiday accommodation. This is of particular importance in caravans, lodges and tents or glamping pods.

Provide information for your tenants

With frequent change-over of tenants and short-term occupancy, it may also help to provide a factsheet with guidance on carbon monoxide safety. Information such as how to locate and turn off the mains gas supply, what to do if the carbon monoxide alarm goes off or who to contact in an emergency may prove invaluable. Some tenants will be unfamiliar with gas appliances and general advice on how to use them safely could be useful.

Furthermore, unlike some smoke alarms that are prone to false triggers, a CO alarm is very unlikely to go off unless it detects carbon monoxide. False alarms are very unlikely and residents should be advised to act immediately and assume it is an emergency situation. Many people are not aware of the CO emissions from BBQs and camp fires. Cosy fires and family BBQs can prove deadly if emissions are allowed to accumulate in a tent, glamping pod or caravan. Campsites or caravan sites are advised to alert campers to the possible dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning from these activities.

Confidence in the UK holiday market

With the trend in UK ‘staycations’ looking set to continue into next year, ensuring the safety of guests in all accommodation will only help to increase confidence in UK holidays. Families should have peace of mind that their safety is of the utmost importance. There are many options for carbon monoxide alarms including combined or separate smoke and CO alarms, audible and visual cues and fixed or portable units. The requirement of each accommodation type varies depending on size, risks and structure.

The Kidde 7DCO alarm is a great solution for most providers as it is Kitemarked as safe for use in all domestic situations as well as in caravans, boats and tents. Its 10-year lifespan, digital display and option for free-standing or wall-mounting makes it a reliable and flexible option. And, with readings taken every 15 seconds and displayed on the digital panel, guests would have complete peace of mind that they are protected from the ‘silent killer’.

A suitable carbon monoxide alarm
Digital Display Carbon Monoxide Alarm 10 Yr Warranty – Kidde 7DCO

If you are an accommodation provider and would like more information, please contact our customer care team on 0800 612 6537.

Mel Saunders

Head of Marketing

Mel joined Safelincs in 2020 and leads the content and marketing team.

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
Digital Carbon Monoxide Alarm - Kidde 5DCO
  • 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 and UKCA Marked
  • Kitemarked to BS EN 50291-1: 2018 (domestic use)
  • Also suitable for the 2022 Welsh legislation
£13.19 ex VAT
£15.83 inc VAT
Buy Now

Angie Dewick-Eisele

Director

Angie Dewick-Eisele is co-founder of Safelincs Ltd, one of the leading fire safety providers in the UK. Angie was Marketing Manager for many years and as Director is these days responsible for Content Management.