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.

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.

EastEnders carbon monoxide poisoning

This week an EastEnders story line will be covering carbon monoxide poisoning. Single mum, Heather Trotter, will be discovered unconscious in her flat.

Heather knows that her boiler is faulty but can not afford to have it repaired. The boiler leaks carbon monoxide into the flat and leaves Heather fighting for her life. Did she know about the dangers of carbon monoxide?

This episode will hopefully raise the awareness about carbon monoxide poisoning and how it occurs. Carbon monoxide is the result of incomplete combustion of all fossil fuels. It has no odour or colour and as a result can go undetected. Even some GPs miss-diagnose the onset of carbon monoxide poisoning as flu as the symptoms are very similar.

Don’t risk your life like Heather Trotter, install a carbon monoxide alarm and investigate your fossil fuel appliances if you begin to feel unwell at home, with flu like symptons that get better when you are outside the house.

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.

Learn important lessons from a tragic death from carbon monoxide poisoning

Robert Schenker, age 31, died of carbon monoxide poisoning after shoddy building work carried out on his chimney.

The builder, who had been hired by Mr Schenker to repair his chimney stack, was convicted of manslaughter and breaching health and safety laws.  Whilst undertaking a routine task he allowed debris and fresh mortar to fall down the flue leading to the kitchen boiler.  The mixture formed a solid blockage in the chimney preventing the fatal carbon monoxide fumes, produced by a gas boiler connected to it, from escaping upwards safely.  Although the boiler was 30 years old, it had been functioning perfectly well.  However, as it exhausted straight into the chimney so when the chimney flue became blocked, the carbon monoxide had nowhere to go but back into the house.

Shortly after the building work, Mr Schenker had told his neighbours that he had been feeling unwell for several days and was advised to phone the builder to check the flue was ok.  The builder reassured him that everything was in order.  Mr Schenker switched on his boiler and went to take a nap – from which he never awoke, killed by carbon monoxide poisoning.

HSE inspectors involved in this case were appalled by the poor workmanship and failure to carry out even the most basic checks to ensure the correct operation of the flue, which directly led to Mr Schenker’s death.

An inspector with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) stated that Robert Schenker’s tragic and wasteful death could and should have been avoided by the builder taking straightforward safety precautions.

Mr Schenker’s brother, Max, said: “I hope that Robert’s tragic death will raise awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide. I would ask everyone to invest in a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector that can alert you to danger if you fall asleep.”

Take carbon monoxide safety seriously.

For detailed information about carbon monoxide – what causes problems, symptoms of poisoning,  and how to protect your family, view our safety information sheet.