Carbon Monoxide – The Silent Killer
What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas that is difficult to identify without the correct detector. On average there are between 1 and 2 deaths in Irish homes every year due to carbon monoxide poisoning. It is known as the silent killer due to it being so difficult to identify.
CO poisoning can be a result of faulty home heating systems or fossil fuels such as oil, coal and turf being burned in the home.
When fuels burn correctly and efficiently, they produce carbon dioxide. But when faulty appliances such as boilers, cookers or heaters do not burn fuel correctly, they release carbon monoxide. CO is dangerous due to how it reacts with the haemoglobin in your blood. Haemoglobin carries oxygen around your body. When you inhale carbon monoxide instead of carbon dioxide, it starves your body of oxygen. This can result in tiredness, dizziness, disorientation or shortness of breath. The symptoms of CO poisoning can be similar to flu symptoms with the exception of a high temperature. It is important to be able to identify the difference as exposure to the gas can result in long-term brain or heart damage.
The Main Causes of Carbon Monoxide in the Home
- Faulty heating appliances
- Poor ventilation
- Blocked chimneys
- Using barbecues indoors
- Running engines such as lawnmowers in garages or sheds
- Using cooking appliances or ovens to heat your home
How to Identify Faulty Appliances in your Home
- Staining or discolouration around appliances
- A yellow or orange flame where it is normally blue
- Condensation or dampness on walls and windows in the room once an appliance is lit
- A strange smell when an appliance is on
- Rusting or water streaking on appliance cabinet/vent/chimney
- Loose or disconnected vent/chimney connections or guards
Protect Your Home From Carbon Monoxide
The best way to protect the occupants of your home against CO is to ensure that your appliances are serviced regularly your home appliances such as vents and chimneys are inspected. Ensure that your rooms are well ventilated and never block vents. Cooking appliances should never be used to heat a room.
Buying a CO alarm is an important step to giving yourself time in the event of a leak. Depending on how many appliances you have, you may require more than one. When shopping for alarms it is important to buy ones that complies with EU standards, have a CE mark and have an expiry date.
Carbon Monoxide FAQ
Where is CO found?
CO is found in fumes produced any time you burn fuel such as in cars, trucks, fireplaces, stoves and more. It can build up indoors and poison any person or animal who breathes it.
What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?
The most common symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning are headaches, weakness, dizziness, upset stomach, chest pain and confusion. Those who are asleep or drunk can die from CO poisoning before they even have any symptoms.
If you have any queries regarding Carbon Monoxide, please see the official carbon monoxide prevention website by clicking here .