Carbon monoxide

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

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
  • Wood pellet storage areas
  • Using BBQs in enclosed areas
  • Portable heaters
  • Holiday accommodation
  • Garages

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

Our effective use of technology helps to keep our customers safe.


Five 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. 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.
  5. 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.


Are you CO protected?

Do everything you can to protect yourself from the dangers of CO poisoning.

Get your appliances fitted and checked by a Gas Safe™ registered engineer and fit an audible CO alarm that complies with BS EN 50291. You can buy a carbon monoxide detector from some supermarkets, DIY stores and your energy supplier. Remember, a smoke detector is not a carbon monoxide detector.