What is CO poisoning?

Unsafe gas appliances can produce a highly poisonous gas called carbon monoxide (CO). It can cause death as well as serious long term health problems such as brain damage.

CO is produced by the incomplete burning of natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). This happens when a gas appliance has been incorrectly fitted, badly repaired or poorly maintained. It can also occur if flues, chimneys or vents are blocked.

Oil and solid fuels such as coal, wood, petrol and oil can also produce carbon monoxide.

CO poisoning occurs when you breathe in the gas and it replaces oxygen in your bloodstream. Without oxygen, your body tissue and cells die. Even small amounts of the gas can cause CO poisoning, and long term effects can include paralysis and brain damage.

The benefits of having a CO alarm

An audible CO alarm will alert you to the presence of the poisonous gas in your home. Although no substitute for having your appliances serviced and checked regularly, fitting a CO alarm in your property is strongly recommended as a second line of defence against carbon monoxide poisoning.

Modern CO alarms are similar in design to smoke alarms (which do not detect CO) .We do not recommend the use of 'black spot detector' warning strips - they are too easy to miss and won't alert you if you have a CO leak when you're asleep.

It’s advisable to fit an alarm in every room with a gas appliance – when installing and siting the alarm make sure you refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Typically, audible CO alarms have a battery life of up to 5 years. If you’re unsure which alarm to get, you can ask a Gas Safe registered engineer for advice.