It is invisible. It kills around 40 people a year – and it could be in your home.
Sounds like something out of a horror movie, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s very real – carbon monoxide poisoning puts 200 people in hospital every year in the UK, according to NHS statistics. It’s a scary statistic, so when I was contacted by the team at CORGI HomePlan, I wanted to help spread the word.
It’s particularly dangerous at this time of year – many of us are firing up our boilers and switching on our heating after a long summer without it – and many have no idea that their appliances could potentially be leaking this poisonous gas into their homes. In the last three years, one in six households inspected by the Gas Safe register was found to have an unsafe appliance – a scary statistic, to say the least!
What Is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas, produced when fuels don’t burn properly. When you breathe in carbon monoxide, the poisonous gas mixes with the haemoglobin in your blood cells to form carboxyhaemoglobin – preventing the red blood cells from carrying oxygen around your body, causing the cells and tissues to die.
Because the gas is invisible, it is difficult to detect by yourself, and the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning – a headache, dizziness, nausea & vomiting, tiredness & confusion, stomach pain, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing – can also be symptoms of flu or food poisoning, many people don’t realise that carbon monoxide could be to blame. However, if the symptoms improve or disappear when you leave the house, chances are carbon monoxide poisoning could be to blame.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause life-threatening or fatal damage to the brain and heart, and if you have been exposed, you’ll need oxygen therapy in hospital.
What Causes Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
The most common cause of carbon monoxide poisoning is a leak from incorrectly-installed or faulty appliances such as boilers, cookers and heaters. Here are some signs to look out for, that could tell you if you’ve got a carbon monoxide leak in your home –
- The flame on your cooker should be crisp and blue. Yellow or orange flames mean you need to get your cooker checked
- Dark staining around or on appliances
- Sooty marks on the walls around boilers, stoves or the cover of gas fires
- Pilot lights that frequently go out
- Increased condensation inside windows
If you suspect that there is a carbon monoxide leak in your home, or that you have carbon monoxide poisoning, follow the advice from Corgi HomePlan –
If you smell gas you need to act quickly. Immediately stop using all your cooking and heating appliances, gas and electric. Make sure the room is well ventilated by opening all doors and windows. If you have access to your gas isolation valve turn it a quarter turn so the lever is at 90 degrees to the upright gas pipe. You should then ring the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 11 999.
If you suspect you or anyone in your house has inhaled carbon monoxide. It is important that you get fresh air immediately; turn off the appliance and leave the house. If you think you are in danger ring the National Gas Emergency Helpline on 0800 11 999. You should seek medical attention as soon as possible – visit your GP or go to the hospital as soon as possible – let them know that you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning.
If you suspect that you have a gas leak, always get a Gas Safe registered engineer to come out and inspect your appliances for dangerous problems. The engineers at CORGI HomePlan will perform a thorough service on your boiler and gas supply and ensure that the appliance is operating safely.
How Can I Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
The best way to protect you and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning is to install a carbon monoxide detector. They’re available really cheaply with options to suit every budget, and CORGI HomePlan is campaigning for every household to have a carbon monoxide alarm. It’s so easy to get an alarm, and it could save so many lives.
Click on the picture below to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a carbon monoxide detector worth £30, kindly provided by the team at CORGI! And don’t forget to visit the CORGI HomePlan website here for more details on how to keep you and your family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning!