Inevitably, as winter comes along we look to turn on the heating, stoke up the open fire and generally find ways to keep ourselves warm. However, before you turn up the heating it is vital to check that everything is in working order and you reduce the risk of carbon monoxide leaks wherever possible. With over 40 deaths and 4000 estimated admissions to A&E in England and Wales from carbon monoxide poisoning every year, it is vital to be alert.
What To Be Aware Of
The problem with carbon monoxide is that it is very hard to detect – it has no colour, odour or taste. If you suffer from headaches, drowsiness, chest pains, nausea and vomiting, then these are all potential symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and you should see your GP as soon as possible.
Some people say that yellow flames instead of blue flames could potentially be a sign of a carbon monoxide leak. While this is often a sign that you need to get your heating appliance serviced or repaired, it is not necessarily a sign of a carbon monoxide leak (this will reduce the risk of any leaks).
Get Appliances Checked
Any fossil fuel or wood-burning heater needs to be checked by a registered engineer (ideally this should be done at least once a year). Furthermore, it is recommended that the room be well ventilated as well to reduce the risk of fumes spreading.
Getting a carbon monoxide alarm fitted is also strongly recommended. Given the fact you cannot see, smell or taste the gas this is the only way to detect it and give you a chance to escape. While it is possible to see smoke and take evasive action, often with carbon monoxide you won’t be aware you have inhaled it until it is too late.
Some premium carbon monoxide alarms also come with detectors that can gauge the amount of carbon monoxide in the room. You can then check the readout on the LCD display to indicate how much carbon monoxide is in the room and whether or not it is harmful.
In order to reduce the risk of exposure to carbon monoxide there are certain steps you can take:
- Get your appliances serviced on a regular basis (at least once a year)
- Report any symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning (nausea, chest pains, headaches, drowsiness) to your GP
- If you see yellow instead of blue flames when using your appliances get them repaired as soon as possible
- Get a carbon monoxide alarm fitted (remember to ensure that it is working and test it on a regular basis)
With these basic steps, you can reduce the risk of being exposed to carbon monoxide and stop any leaks from happening. Keep safe this winter and remember to do these checks.