Carbon monoxide

You can’t see it, smell it, hear it or taste it – that’s why it’s known as the ‘silent killer’.

If you're worried about carbon monoxide in your property follow these steps:

  1. Open all doors and windows
  2. Move everyone into the fresh air
  3. Call the Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999  or via textphone (minicom) on 0800 371 787. If you're a British Sign Language (BSL) user, you can use SignLive to contact the National Gas Emergency Service free of charge. 

What is carbon monoxide (CO)?

CO is a highly poisonous gas that is produced by the incomplete burning of fossil fuels (including gas, oil, wood, petrol and coal).

It’s not just appliances in the home that can produce carbon monoxide. Other risk areas include:

  • Camping sites
  • Boats
  • Using BBQs in an enclosed areas
  • Portable heaters
  • Holiday accommodation
  • Garages
  • Wood pellet storage areas

All our SGN emergency staff wear personal atmosphere monitors (PAMs) which can provide an early warning of potential danger.

Six steps to CO safety

  1. Check the flame
    Is it burning lazy and orange? It should be crisp and blue. Other signs to check for - are there black marks on or around the appliance, does the pilot light frequently blow out or is there too much condensation?
  2. Check ventilation
    Is the flue from the appliance or your chimney blocked? Is there enough ventilation to allow your gas appliances to burn correctly – if they don’t have a sufficient air supply, they could produce carbon monoxide.
  3. Check appliances
    Have all your gas appliances checked every year. Always use a Gas Safe™  registered engineer to fit, fix and check your appliances
  4. Get yourself a CO alarm 
    As well as getting your appliances fitted and checked by a Gas Safe™ registered engineer, you should buy and fit an audible CO alarm that complies with BS EN 50291. You can buy carbon monoxide detectors in DIY stores, supermarkets and online. Remember, a smoke detector is not a carbon monoxide detector.
  5. Check for symptoms
    Headaches, nausea, dizziness, breathlessness, collapsing and loss of consciousness are all symptoms of CO poisoning. If these symptoms occur when you’re at home but disappear when you are away from home, go straight to hospital and get checked for possible CO poisoning.
  6. Check your rights and responsibilities
    If you are a tenant, by law, your landlord must check your appliances every year. Ask for a copy of the annual gas safety record. Check if your landlord has fitted an audible CO alarm. If you are a landlord, it’s your responsibility to make sure your tenants are safe. You must make sure that gas pipework, flues and appliances are in good condition and checked every year by a  Gas Safe™ registered engineer.