Carbon monoxide, also known as CO, is a highly poisonous gas that has no colour, taste or smell, making it impossible to detect without an alarm. CO Awareness Week 2021 is taking place from 22 – 28 November to highlight the dangers of this potentially lethal substance.
Carbon Monoxide can be released by any appliance or heating system that burns oil, gas or solid fuel, including wood, if they are not properly installed, correctly used or maintained or where adequate ventilation has not been provided.
Due to its invisible nature we may not be aware of exposure to CO, so it is vitally import you are aware of the symptoms that can appear if you are in contact with the gas.
The main symptoms of exposure include:
- Chest Pain
- Stomach Pain
Many of the symptoms of carbon monoxide are similar to those of flu, food poisoning, viral infections, or simple tiredness. Other warning signs that suggest carbon monoxide poisoning include symptoms that:
- Only occur when you are at home
- Disappear or get better when you leave the home and come back when you return
- Are seasonal – e.g. headaches during the winter when the central heating is used more often
- Or other people in your household (including your pets) are experiencing similar symptoms
You are putting yourself and others at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if any fuel burning appliance is not working properly, has not been checked for safety and serviced regularly by a competent person or if ventilation to your appliance is blocked. However one of the main and perhaps most obvious risks is not to have a functioning CO Alarm.
The dangers of CO poisoning are not just restricted to inside the home. It is dangerous to use fuel burning appliances in enclosed spaces such as tents, gazebos and marquees. Each year a
large number of people fall ill because of carbon monoxide poisoning after using appliances such as BBQs and gas cookers inappropriately.
If you believe you have been exposed to carbon monoxide and are experiencing symptoms, it is essential you remove yourself from the source, get into fresh air immediately and seek medical help.
To help make sure you are CO safe, Armagh City Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s Home Safety Scheme can assist with carbon monoxide concerns. If you are aged over 65, have children under 5, or have a disability/special need, our Home Safety Team can provide information and advice on avoidance of accidents and potential hazards in and around the home. Safety equipment, including carbon monoxide alarms may also be available to those eligible.