Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas. You can’t see, taste, or smell it, but there are some signs to look out for.

This guide will tell you all you need to know about avoiding carbon monoxide. Knowing the warning signs will help you feel safer in your home.

The emergency number for help with CO is 0800 111 999. Call immediately if:

  • You think there might be CO in your home, or
  • You think you or someone in your home might have CO poisoning

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas that’s poisonous to humans. It’s produced when gas or oil appliances (like cookers or boilers) are faulty or haven’t been well looked after.

Carbon monoxide is dangerous because you can’t sense it. It has no colour, taste or smell. Luckily, your home comes with a special alarm which can tell whether there’s carbon monoxide in the air.

How to stay safe from carbon monoxide

  • Check your home has a carbon monoxide alarm. This works just like a smoke alarm. It will go off if CO is in the air. Make sure to regularly test the alarm by pressing the button. Replace the batteries when they run out
  • Get all oil and gas appliances checked once a year by a professional
  • Make sure there’s ventilation for appliances, including portable heaters. Don’t block any air vents
  • If your alarm goes off or you think there’s CO in the air, turn off the appliance you’re using and call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999 immediately.

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

If you have carbon monoxide poisoning, you might:

  • Get a headache
  • Feel sick or be sick
  • Feel dizzy
  • Feel short of breath
  • Collapse
  • Lose consciousness

Signs of carbon monoxide in your home

Any of the following might be signs of CO:

  • Flames on heating or cooking appliances burning yellow or orange. If the flame isn’t the usual blue, contact your Housing Association to check this .
  • Staining, soot, or discolouration on appliances
  • More condensation than usual
  • Your boiler’s pilot light (flame) going out a lot

Gas safety

If you smell gas in your home, call 0800 111 999. The National Gas Emergency Service runs 24 hours a day. They will come to your home to make sure it’s safe.

In the meantime:

  • Open windows and doors to help let the gas out
  • Turn off the gas supply at the meter
  • Turn off any gas appliances

Make sure you don’t:

  • Smoke or use any flames
  • Turn on any electrical switches. This could ignite the gas
  • Go into a cellar, if you have one. If your gas meter is in the cellar, leave it alone.

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