Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week 2011

Carbon monoxide awareness week runs from Monday, November 21st to Friday, November 25th 2011. This annual event is organised to raise the awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide and to reduce the number of fatalities due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

This year has seen several tragic deaths of campers through carbon monoxide poisoning as well as deaths in homes. These deaths were not only tragic but also avoidable. It is hoped that this years awareness week will increase the knowledge of the general public and prevent such deaths occurring.

If you have an appliance that burns fossil fuel, you could be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. As this deadly gas has no smell, taste or colour the only way to detect it is by having a carbon monoxide alarm in your home. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are very similar to flu; headaches, nausea, dizziness, breathlessness and eventually collapse and loss of consciousness.  As a result of the early stages being similar to flu symptoms many cases of carbon monoxide poisoning go undetected.

Ensure that you and your family are protected from this silent killer. Make this year’s carbon monoxide awareness week the one where you take action, ensure that your fossil fuel appliances have been serviced in the last year and that you have a carbon monoxide alarm.

If you think there may be carbon monoxide present in your home, open windows and doors, call the gas board and seek medical advice for any symptoms you may be suffering.

Here are some useful sites for more information on carbon monoxide:

Dangers of unqualified gas fitters highlighted

The Gas Safe Register has highlighted the dangers to those who have had gas boilers fitted by unqualified fitters. It is believed that in any one year up to 50 people die due to carbon monoxide poisoning and 4,000 people are 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 miss-diagnosed as the symptoms are very similar to common flu.

People living in the London area are thought to be at high risk of having boilers, which were not fitted correctly, increasing their chance of exposure to carbon monoxide. The Gas Safety Register reported that seventy-nine per cent of boilers installed by unqualified fitters in the London area are deemed to be putting the occupants at risk or are classified as immediately dangerous.

The Gas Safety watch dog is urging consumers to always check the credentials of any gas fitter, no matter how trustworthy they may appear, before allowing them to do any work on a gas appliance. They are asking for help from the public in informing them of any rogue installers who are claiming to be qualified but who are not.

If you have a gas appliance, have it serviced regularly and always ensure that repairs or new installations are only carried out by someone who has the relevant training and who is registered. You should also ensure that you have a carbon monoxide alarm to alert you should there be a carbon monoxide leak.

Serious Carbon Monoxide Poisoning from Gas-Powered Forklift

Hi-Tech Products Ltd in Swadlingcote, Derbyshire experienced serious problems with carbon monoxide poisoning on the 10th Feb 2011.

One Thursday lunchtime, four members of the factory started to feel unwell, with the office workers starting to feel ill as well minutes later. The company suspected some form of CO poisoning and rang the gas supplier who sent an engineer within one hour.

The engineer checked the back of the gas-powered forklift and a gas heater but could not find any trace of carbon monoxide. Despite not finding any carbon monoxide he still switched the mains gas supply to the heater off. The company continued to use the forklift truck.

The symptoms of CO poisoning got so bad that one lady had to be taken to A+E and a gentleman had to go to the health clinic. Everybody else felt nauseous. The following day staff felt a little better. To play safe the company bought a Kidde carbon monoxide detector which started alarming straight after its installation. To double check the result, the alarm was taken outside into fresh air where the detector stopped alarming. The alarm started again when the CO detector was taken back into the building.

The gas supplier was called back in and could still not find any carbon monoxide present. The company then organised another carbon monoxide detector from a different brand and again, the alarm was immediately triggered. As a result of this Hi-tech contacted the environmental department of the local council who arranged for the fire brigade to come out and measure the CO levels.

The fire brigade successfully detected the CO gas and narrowed the source down to the forklift where 1000ppm were measured. This level is highly dangerous in closed buidlings. Hi-tech immediately had the forklift serviced which reduced the output of carbon monoxide greatly but still did not get rid of all CO gas emissions.  If the roller doors to the factory are closed, the Kidde alarm will still go into alarm. The company temporarily resolved the problem by leaving the roller doors open during working hours and by installing another two CO alarms. Hi-tech are now considering changing to an electrical forklift truck. Since these measures were introduced no further health issues were reported.

CO alarm saves family

As a result of the blog we wrote about the carbon monoxide leak that left one of the characters in EastEnders unconscious a customer was prompted to contact us.

Our customer found that after she bought her CO alarm from us it alerted her to a carbon monoxide leak that came from her cooker. She found that every time she used the grill the poisonous gas was being emitted into her kitchen. This was putting her and her family at risk.

Having the alarm enabled her to act promptly and avoid any serious effects from the carbon monoxide spill. As this gas is odourless it is not possible to detect it by smell.

View our range of carbon monoxide detectors

UL testing of CO alarms not up to EN Standards

Any CO detector installed is a potentially life saving piece of equipment, and for this reason must be carefully chosen. CO detectors with certification in accordance to the European Norm EN50291 are tested to a higher standard of sensitivity and reaction time, than those tested to the US American UL2034 standard. CO detectors that meet the strict European EN standards have met the highest safety and quality requirements. UL marks are achieved through a similar, yet less rigorous testing in the USA and it has been known for UL tested carbon monoxide detectors to fail to meet the EN standards.

Here a comparison of some of the requirements:

Test EN50291 Standard UL2034 Standard
Humidity Tested 20% to 80% relative humidity Tested 30% to 70% relative humidity
Temperature Threshold 13 to 27 degree Celsius 20 to 26 degree Celsius
Alarm Threshold 30ppm: alarm must not sound before 120 minutes 30ppm: alarm must not sound before 30 days
50ppm: alarm must sound after 60 minutes and before 90 minutes 70ppm: alarm must sound after 60 minutes and before 240 minutes
100ppm: alarm must sound after 10 minutes and before 40 minutes 150ppm: alarm must sound after 10 minutes and before 50 minutes
300ppm: alarm must sound within 3 minutes 400ppm: alarm must sound after 4 minutes and before 15 minutes
Continuous Testing 2 samples tested by certification body annually No further testing
EMC Tests Tested from 30 to 1000Mhz Tested at a few discrete frequencies

When purchasing a CO detector (or any alarm / detector) it is advisable to always check for the type of certification that has been awarded. Please browse our full range of Kitemarked marked CO detectors.

CO poisoning risk increases for pet owners

Now that the nights are drawing in and the temperatures are dropping we are all starting to light our fires. Those with pets will not need to look far to know where their cats and dogs are, if the fire is on they are probably sat directly in front of it.

A study has shown that pet owners are more at risk from Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning than those without. As their cats and dogs snuggle up on the hearth, their hairs can block or restrict air vents intended to ensure adequate ventilation.  Partially restricted or blocked flues and vents can lead to incomplete combustion of the gas and the creation of Carbon Monoxide.

To ensure that you are not at risk of Carbon Monoxide poisoning ensure that you clean and hoover vents on a regular basis to prevent the pet hairs clogging them. You should also ensure that gas appliances are serviced on a regular basis. Should you suffer from headaches, feel drowsy or generally unwell when sat in front of the fire, turn the fire off, ventilate the room and contact your gas supplier to check for CO. You can also protect yourself and your pets by purchasing a carbon monoxide alarm. This alarm will alert you should the CO content in room reach dangerous levels.

Everyone should take some time to get familiar with the dangers and potential causes of carbon monoxide.

Completion of ‘Warm Zone’ Project

A very successful project is slowly coming to an end. In 2008 Kirklees Council decided to offer its residents free CO alarms through their WarmZone project. Safelincs was chosen as supplier of Kidde carbon monoxide detectors and has by now supplied over 120,000 CO detectors for this project.  To celebrate the completion of this  program, a photo shoot was arranged for all key partners that participated in the project. Keeley Broddle, from Safelincs Customer Care Team, can be seen on the left in the second row. Safelincs is extremely proud of its contribution to this achievement and to have been a part of this project.

Couple saved by CO alarm

This week, another CO alarm, supplied by Safelincs Ltd on behalf of Kirklees Council, detected a carbon monoxide leak that resulted from a faulty gas fire appliance. The CO alarm began to sound, prompting the occupants to act and call out a service engineer who confirmed the CO in the air.

The gas fire was condemned as it was found to be producing the odourless poisonous gas, which could have rendered the occupants unconscious and potentially could have killed them.

A carbon monoxide leak can cause at first flu like symptoms, tiredness and a general feeling of being unwell. When undetected it can lead to unconsciousness and eventually death.

Darlington Borough Council invest in CO Alarms

Housing Services at Darlington Borough Council has ordered a substantial number of CO alarms from Safelincs to supply their residents with this potentially life-saving equipment. The CO alarms are distributed by the Council’s Home Improvement Agency handypersons visiting households. Safelincs carried out the training of the staff with regards to siting, installation and maintenance of the carbon monoxide alarms.

CO gas (carbon monoxide) is an invisible and tasteless byproduct of the combustion processes, such as in gas boilers etc and can lead to headaches, flu like symptoms, loss of consciousness and even death. It is very important that households using any combustion processes for heating or cooking monitor the CO content of their homes with a carbon monoxide alarm, such as

Our Twitter competition has started!

Today marks the first day of our Twitter competition, where you have the chance to win 1 of 50 carbon monoxide alarms for your home. As a fire safety company and a Fire Kills partner, we know how important it is to promote and educate people about the dangers of smoke and other harmful gases in the home. Not only will you be able to learn a little something in our fire safety quiz, you will also be given the opportunity to sign up to our free smoke alarm reminders service, so you’ll never forget to change your batteries, test or replace your smoke alarm ever again!

As a thank you for your support in spreading this important message we are giving away a fantastic prize. Every day, for 25 days, two lucky winners will each receive a Kidde slimline digital CO alarm. Safelincs and Kidde have teamed up to provide these alarms that could potentially save your life.

The competition is now closed.