Unfortunately, there are people out there who are looking to make money from safety conscious individuals.
More and more people are now buying carbon monoxide alarms for their homes to protect their families. This is likely to be the result of people now being better informed about the risks.
Known as ‘the silent killer’, CO could come from any solid fuel or gas burning appliance not working correctly. These include boilers, gas stoves, wood burners, and even fireplaces.
Without a detector, it’s impossible to know your home is filling up with the poisonous gas because it is invisible and has no smell or taste. And when the gas can even seep through from a neighbour’s home, you cannot afford not to have one.
Avoid Being Ripped Off
When it comes to buying anything online, you’ll always be inclined to purchase the cheaper option. However, it’s only a good deal if you’re genuinely getting value for money.
So before you press the ‘Buy’ button, there are a few checks you should make first; particularly with safety equipment.
For peace of mind, it’s important that you buy from reputable retailers which are experienced at selling safety equipment. That way, you’ll receive a quality product you can rely on.
Although places like Amazon and eBay are well known, they don’t approve items sold in their marketplaces. It is instead the seller’s credentials which you should be checking.
You should also avoid deals which seem too good to be true, as they generally are. Substandard carbon monoxide alarms are available online for roughly £10 cheaper than the branded alternatives.
For a standard genuine household detector, you should be expecting to pay at least £15.
Don’t Believe Everything You Read
We always say that when you purchase safety equipment online, you should check that it carries the British Standard. Unfortunately, many of these fakes state that they have the BS:EN 50291, as well as being CE marked.
Thankfully, there is an easy way of telling if it meets the standard from the product pictures online.
To comply, the unit itself must display the manufacturer’s name, and will ideally have the CE mark and BSI Kitemark on it too.
When you receive the alarm, another way of checking is whether it has a date printed on it stating when it must be replaced by.
These sensors only have a limited lifespan (generally seven to ten years), and as such, they have to display the date which it is recommended they are replaced by.
If any of these things are missing, they are not complying with the British Standards, and as such, have likely not been tested either.
Some of these have also been found to include information in their instructions which is incorrect, and that too can have serious repercussions.
CO alarms should ideally be placed on the wall, and should go in the rooms where a risk is present, and in the areas your family sleeps in. Don’t confuse them with smoke alarms like some of these dodgy sellers do.
Built To Last
For a carbon monoxide alarm to earn its British Standard Kitemark, it has to withstand extensive testing. And one thing they test is durability.
When the BBC’s Fake Britain tested fake alarms purchased online in 2015, they found that the alarms were only capable of detecting carbon monoxide once.
After exposure to the gas, the cheap sensors became damaged from the exposure and would no longer function correctly afterwards.
However, a genuine carbon monoxide alarm has to detect threats more than once. After all, you want the alarm to still warn you of a leak if it’s still present after you’ve ventilated your home.
And that’s why it is so important that you make sure your carbon monoxide alarms are the real deal. Safety equipment is designed to keep you safe and protect against things going wrong. So you need it to be up to the job.
What To Do Now
If you suspect your carbon monoxide alarm might not be legit, then make the few simple checks mentioned above. Check for the brand name, British Kitemark and the CE mark, and look for an expiry date too. A genuine alarm should feature all these things.
Additionally, check the date on your CO alarm and make sure it’s still within its usable life. If the date displayed has already gone past, or is soon approaching, then replace it immediately with a genuine product.
Just like a smoke alarm, you also need to test it regularly using the test button. And if it has replaceable batteries, make sure these are changed at least annually.
To avoid a carbon monoxide leak in your home, you should ensure all gas equipment is serviced yearly by an engineer. And likewise, ensure you have work carried out by trained professionals.
With solid fuel burners, like fireplaces, it is advised you have your chimneys swept every year. If there is a blockage, the gas cannot escape and will instead enter your home.
Should your alarm sound, or if you suspect carbon monoxide, then you need to get everyone out into fresh air. The National Gas Emergency service are the best people to call for advice, on 0800 111 999.
It’s common for CO poisoning to be confused with having the flu as the symptoms are similar. But things to look out for are headaches, sleepiness, nausea and vomiting, memory loss, fatigue and shortness of breath.
However, having alarms in your home is your best source of protection.