Carbon monoxide (CO) is one of the biggest dangers households face today, it’s risks are something which the national Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week aims to make people aware of.
The Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week started yesterday, September 25th, and runs until October 1st, and this year’s campaign sees mascot Tommy McAnairey travelling the country to warn Irish citizens about the dangers of this lethal gas.
Carbon monoxide is an odourless, colourless poisonous gas produced by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal.
Typical causes of carbon monoxide poisoning include:
- Faulty or damaged heating appliances
- Heating appliance not maintained or serviced
- Rooms not properly ventilated
- Blocked chimneys or flues
- Indoor use of a barbecue grill or outdoor heater
- Poor installation of heating appliances
- Improper operation of heating appliances
- Running engines such as vehicles or lawnmowers in garages
- Using cooking appliances for heating purposes
On average, 1 to 2 people in Ireland die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning, which is why it’s so important that people are aware of the risks associated with CO.
There are a number of warning signs to look out for if you suspect carbon monoxide is leaking from a faulty appliance:
- Staining, sooting or discolouration around the appliance
- Appliances that burn slowly, badly (orange or ‘floppy’ flames) or go out
- A yellow or orange flame where normally blue
- Condensation or dampness on walls and windows in the room once the appliance is lit
- A strange smell when the appliance is on
- Rusting or water streaking on appliance cabinet/vent/chimney
- Loose or disconnected vent/chimney connections or guards
If you detect any of the above it is recommended that you contact a professional service technician to examine the appliance or unit in question.
Some of the safety precautions homeowners can take include:
- Ensure your appliances are correctly installed and SERVICED ANNUALLY
- Ensure that rooms in your home containing heating appliances are properly ventilated – NEVER BLOCK VENTS
- Make sure all chimneys are regularly swept and kept clear
- Use appliances only for the PURPOSE for which they were designed, e.g. do not use a cooker to heat a room
- NEVER use any appliance if you suspect it might be faulty
- If undertaking ALTERATIONS to your home which may affect the safety or efficiency of your heating installation (e.g. adding an extension, converting a garage, removing internal walls, changing a living room into a bedroom, double glazing / weather sealed doors) follow this safety advice:
- Do not block or build around any existing air vents or flues
- If creating a new living space, ensure it has ventilation in accordance with Building Regulations
- If adding additional radiators ensure that your boiler can cope with the additional capacity
- If you are altering or adding appliances to a natural gas or LPG installation, ensure that work is carried out to IS813:2002 Domestic Gas Installations
- Get professional advice on ventilation and flueing before embarking on alterations to your house. Contact your fuel supplier for details of qualified personnel
- Use Carbon Monoxide alarms but remember these are no substitute for regular inspection and maintenance of appliances, vents, flues and chimneys. Check that the Carbon Monoxide alarm complies with the EN 50291 standard.
It’s a good idea to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home, such as the Nest Protect detector, to ensure you and your family are fully protected against CO.
An industrial grade smoke sensor, Nest Protect detects and immediately alerts you to any presence of carbon monoxide in your home.
It’s designed to last ten years and can of course detect smoke from fires, providing you with an all in one smoke and gas detector.