Carbon Monoxide Detectors

What to do when a carbon monoxide detector goes off

When your carbon monoxide alarm goes off, there are key steps to take to make your home safe, and to protect yourself and your family fast.  

1. Open all doors and windows - The first task is to open all of the doors and windows in the house to try to clear some of the deadly gas.

2. Turn off all fuel-burning appliances and leave the house - once you’ve done what you can to ventilate your home, turn off all of your fuel-burning appliances, such as boilers and fires, and leave the house. Regardless of whether you feel ill or well, remain outside until you've spoken to a doctor or called the emergency advice line.

3. Don’t switch on the lights, smoke or strike a match.  Once the alarm has sounded, if there are gas appliances in your home you should avoid switching on the lights, smoking or striking a match (to light a candle for example).

4. Seek medical advice - If you feel ill or exhibit any of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning after your alarm goes off, contact your doctor immediately or call 999 for an ambulance.

5. Call the emergency advice line If you believe your carbon monoxide emergency was caused by a gas appliance, Call the Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999. If you use oil to heat your home, call Oftec on 01473 626 298.

6. Contact us to arrange to have your appliances serviced - If your boiler, heater, stove or fire is producing dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, there's something wrong with it, and it will need to be serviced by a professional.

What is Carbon Monoxide (CO)?

CO is a colourless and odourless gas, making its presence difficult to detect. It is formed when domestic fuels such as gas, coal, wood and charcoal are burned and by petrol engines. When fuel burns in an enclosed room, the oxygen in the room is gradually used up and replaced with carbon dioxide. If carbon dioxide builds up in the air, the fuel is prevented from burning fully and starts releasing carbon monoxide instead.

What are the main symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

Early symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can mimic many common ailments and may easily be confused with food poisoning, viral infections, flu or simple tiredness. Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Headaches
  • Breathlessness
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Collapse
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Tiredness
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting

For more information visit the NHS website or telephone NHS Direct on 0845 4647.

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