Carbon Monoxide

What is carbon monoxide and why is it so dangerous?

Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous gas that has no colour, taste or smell and can be produced by appliances that use gas, wood, oil or coal. Carbon monoxide can also be present in smoke from solid fuel or oil appliances.

Carbon monoxide is potentially fatal and even low-levels of the poison can cause lasting damage to your health.

How will I recognise the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to flu. They can include:

  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • tiredness
  • headaches
  • stomach pains
  • chest pains

Severe carbon monoxide poisoning makes the body turn a cherry-red colour. Unlike a lack of oxygen due to choking for example, the body does not turn blue. Instead, the victim’s skin will be pink or pale with bright red lips.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can affect the victim’s mental ability before they are even aware that there is a problem. Any effort that increases the body’s need for oxygen only makes the problem worse, rapidly leading to collapse and potentially death.

How can I tell if my appliances are releasing carbon monoxide?

Although you cannot see or smell carbon monoxide it is possible to spot the danger signs. Simply look at your gas or heating appliances. Look out for:

  • sooting or staining on or around your appliance
  • excessive condensation in the room where the appliance is installed
  • lazy yellow or orange coloured flames. If you are using a gas appliance, it should have a crisp blue flames. If it turns to a lazy orange flame, the appliance may not be working correctly.

What precautions can I take?

We carry out safety inspections of gas and oil appliances installed every 12 months. It is essential that you provide access to our servicing contractor when you are contacted.

You should also make sure rooms and heaters are well ventilated and not blocked to stop draughts or to dry clothes.

If you have a solid fuel appliance you should empty and check the ash can daily, clean the flue ways at the back of the boiler weekly and clean the throat plates at the top of the room heater monthly.

Chimneys should be swept regularly depending on the type of fuel. Please contact you local Housing office if your chimney needs to be cleaned.

Are you installing carbon monoxide alarms?

We are installing hard wired carbon monoxide alarms to homes. These should be tested and cleaned regularly.

If you experience any problems with the alarm please contact the repairs line on 03456 08 12 03.

Further information

Read our leaflet carbon monoxide kills (PDF 101KB) for more information.