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.

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.

CO Alarm for Caravans and Motorhomes

Prepare for the summer season by installing a CO alarm for caravans. Because caravans are a confined space, the potential for the build-up of deadly carbon monoxide gas is greater. 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.

Kidde 7DCO for caravans and motorhomes
The Kidde 7DCO CO Alarm for caravans and motorhomes

Choosing a CO alarm for caravans and motorhomes

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

Kidde 7DCO

The Kidde 7DCO is ideal for caravans. It can be easily wall mounted using the fixings included in the pack. The digital display shows readings taken every 15 seconds and will indicate any changes to the level of CO gas detected. The alarm is supplied with 3 x AA batteries that are easy to replace when the warning chirp indicates that the power is low.

The Kidde 7DCO is certified for use in caravans and has a warranty for the full 10 year lifespan of the product.

Caravan fire extinguisher and CO alarm
Kidde 7DCO can be easily wall mounted in your caravan or motorhome
Kidde Carbon Monoxide Alarm - 7DCO / 7DCOC
Kidde Carbon Monoxide Alarm - 7DCO / 7DCOC
  • FREE delivery
  • 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
£17.87 ex VAT
£21.44 inc VAT
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See all carbon monoxide alarms suitable for caravans

Discover more caravan safety tips

What to do with old smoke alarms?

Customers ask us occasionally about the recycling of smoke alarms. Here is some information relating to this.

Smoke and heat alarms fall under the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) regulations. The biggest burden, with regards to the recycling of these goods, falls on businesses manufacturing, rebranding or importing alarms or any other electrical equipment. Retailers like us have to follow a reduced set of regulations.

Retailers have to pay a fee to be allowed to recommend  their domestic customers to drop their old smoke and heat alarms off at local recycling centers (Distributor Take-Back Scheme) rather than returning them to Safelincs for passing on to the manufacturers. As the directive states that the customer should in this case dispose of the old alarm themselves at the recycling centers we could in theory refuse to accept old smoke alarms back from domestic customers. However, we allow customers to send us their old units as a courtesy when they purchase from us.

Ideally, as stated above, domestic customers should drop their old alarms off at their local recycling centers, however, they can also dispose small numbers of alarms in their normal refuse. Quite often customers are concerned that the crossed-out wheelie bin on the back of the alarm means that they must not place the unit in a normal waste bin. This is a mis-understanding, the crossed-out wheelie bin just means that this product falls under the WEEE regulations and ideally should be recycled. Nevertheless, small numbers of smoke alarms are permitted in the household waste. There is currently no differentiation in this respect between the  ionisation and other smoke alarms despite the ionisation alarms containing small amounts of radio-activity.

There are WEEE rules that differ for domestic customers and businesses. Business smoke alarm users can drop small numbers of old alarms off at the recycling centre, where the cost for recycling will be passed on to the manufacturers. Business customers can also pass the smoke alarms on to us. We then pass them on to the manufacturers. This is only the case if they buy new smoke alarms from us at the same time or if they bought the units from us in the first place (there are some detailed rules relating to this regulation, which have been left out for simplicity).