Look out for carbon monoxide poisoning dangers

Malcolm Farrow, from OFTEC, checks his carbon monoxide alarm.
Malcolm Farrow, from OFTEC, checks his carbon monoxide alarm.

Households are being urged to take action to protect themselves from the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Research has revealed that one in three homes do not have a CO alarm fitted, despite nine in ten homeowners saying they are aware of the risks.

OFTEC, the trade association for the oil heating industry, is using Carbon Monoxide Awareness Month to highlight the potential risks of CO poisoning which kills on average 30 people and hospitalises over 4000 every year in the UK.

CO is produced when carbon fuels don’t burn properly. Any type of heating system where combustion takes place can potentially give off the odourless, colourless gas.

Exposure can result in severe long-term health problems, or even death, with younger and older people, as well as pets, most at risk.

Key symptoms to watch out for are tiredness, dizziness and headaches.

Simple steps households can take to reduce the risk include:

• Purchase an audible CO alarm, and test and check it regularly;

• Avoid blocking ventilation of wood burners and stoves;

• Ensure your boiler is serviced at least once a year by an OFTEC (for oil or solid fuel) or GasSafe (for mains gas) registered technician to check it is working efficiently;

• If your CO alarm goes off, open all the windows and then leave the room immediately. You should then contact OFTEC or GasSafe. If you experience any symptoms of CO poisoning, call 999.

Malcolm Farrow, of OFTEC, said: “It is extremely important households not only understand the potential risks but take the relevant action to prevent themselves.

“By supporting Carbon Monoxide Awareness Month, we hope to bring more attention to this issue.”

Further information on CO poisoning is available at bit.ly/OFTECCOAwareness.