Carbon monoxide alarms

Almost a third of Britons don’t realise the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) and how important it is to invest in a CO alarm. Just like smoke alarms, they save lives.

CO alarms (battery or mains powered audible alarms) will produce a loud warning if there is too much carbon monoxide in the air. They’re reliable and easy to use. What’s more, they’re relatively cheap. CO alarms usually have a life span of five years – so ensure you replace after that time.

It’s not recommended to buy an opto-chemical CO detector (they are just a pad of coloured chemical that reacts with carbon monoxide) as they don’t make a sound if there’s danger and you need to physically check them all the time.

Carbon monoxide dangers

Carbon monoxide is normally released from poorly installed or faulty heating systems or gas fires.

If there’s a blocked flue or chimney, the poisonous gas can’t escape, leaving it in the home to be breathed in.

Other sources of carbon monoxide (CO) are from the burning of charcoal and the running of cars. It’s extremely dangerous to run the engine in a garage with the door closed.

Carbon monoxide symptoms

If too much carbon monoxide enters the body it’ll reduce the amount of oxygen carried by red blood cells. This is because it mixes with the haemoglobin.

This will starve the body of fuel and cause cells and tissues to die.

Symptoms of excessive CO levels are similar to flu. And it’s for this reason that it’s often misdiagnosed by medical professionals.

One tell-tale sign though is that CO doesn’t cause a high temperature. So, if there are a number of people sharing a building and all develop flu-like symptoms without a temperature, act quickly.

Call the HSE Gas Safety advice line on 0800 200 363.


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