Carbon monoxide gradually builds up in your body and reduces your ability to absorb oxygen, in short you will die from this toxic gas if you spend any time inhaling it. Gas appliances are part of the fabric of most homes and there is a small risk that these can produce carbon monoxide, when they are badly maintained or neglected.

Fortunately there are detectors to alert us to the presence of carbon monoxide in the air. Whilst they are not as commonplace as smoke detectors, and you shouldn’t rely upon them confirmation that the air is totally clear of carbon monoxide, carbon monoxide detectors are becoming more reliable and installed in many more homes.

It is worth stressing that purchasing a carbon monoxide detector is no substitute for the proper maintenance of any gas appliance. The detector will alert you to the production of the gas, something that you want to avoid at any cost and a thorough maintenance program for your gas appliances is the best way of avoiding this.

If you are going to purchase a carbon monoxide detector cheque for a very loud alarm, one that leaves you with no doubt that it has been triggered. Remember you could be asleep when the problem occurs and you would want to ensure that any alarm you purchased was able to rouse you from a slumber so that you can quickly get to fresh air outside your home. For this reason we believe that chemical-based carbon monoxide detectors, relying upon a colour change to demonstrate to you the presence of carbon monoxide, are not suitable for alerting you. They are better for a one off manual test designed to check the atmosphere.

Getting early warning of carbon monoxide can literally be the difference between life and death. The electronic detectors are designed to flag the presence of carbon monoxide at low levels, lower levels that would initially form you. Accordingly, if you act immediately upon triggering the alarm you should have sufficient time to get to a safe place and to switch off your gas appliances and open the windows to ensure a supply of fresh air.

A carbon monoxide detector is only good if it is working satisfactorily and you therefore need to check this regularly. Ensure that any device that you purchase has a test facility so that at least you can check the speaker and battery condition on a frequent basis. Unfortunately, there is no way of testing the accuracy of the alarm and at what levels of carbon monoxide it will trigger. For this reason you should respect the manufacturers instructions and replace the unit when the battery is depleted. Also make sure with you do not mistreat it and that it is installed in the correct area in accordance with the installation instructions.

This isn’t a gas to mess around with. Unfortunately, it will be difficult to positively identify that someone has carbon monoxide poisoning as these symptoms look very similar to a mild illness such as a cold or the early onset of flu. The important factor is to not take risks and to act quickly if you believe that a faulty gas appliance could in any way be playing a part.

Also keep an eye on your pets. They can also be affected by carbon monoxide poisoning and might be your first indication that something is not right.

In a human being the symptoms that can be observed early when carbon monoxide is being absorbed are: –

* headaches which occur daily
* instability
* loss of energy
* urge to vomit

As we have stated earlier and stress for the purpose of safety – If you notice symptoms such as these when you have gas appliances in the home, stop using the appliance without delay, increase ventilation to the rooms, take any inhabitants outside and ensure that your gas appliances are inspected by a properly registered gas engineer.

If you don’t have gas in your house you most probably will never suffer from this issue. Similarly if your gas appliances are well maintained, on a frequent basis, you probably also will never suffer from this issue. Badly maintained gas appliances coupled with insufficient ventilation is a breeding ground for a carbon monoxide problem.

Ventilation ducts work perfectly well when clear of any obstruction. In a busy fog these can accidentally be blocked and a temporary blockage can turn into a permanent blockage if you are not paying attention. Ventilation ducts in a room where there is a boiler are vitally important to ensure that enough oxygen gets to the boiler. Never be tempted to place a large item or curtain near one of these temporarily thinking that you will move it by the end of the day, this may not happen.

Ventilation ducts can also be blocked from the outside. Growing plants and vines are often the culprit here and whilst the area appeared to be clear in the spring the duct might be completely obstructed by the end of the summer. As with internal blockages, regular inspections and being alert is your best defence here. When you’re boiler maintenance engineer service’s the appliance the should check that the ventilation in the area is satisfactory and there are no problems. The same applies to your front room should you have a gas fire which also should be serviced on a regular basis.

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