Be CO aware

Be CO Aware – Here you are going to find information on how to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning and keep your home safe.

The Silent and Invisible Killer. According to Department of Health figures, every year about 40 people in the UK are recorded as having died of carbon monoxide poisoning.  A further 4,000 or so attend A & E, Hundreds more suffer ill-effects as a result of exposure to carbon monoxide: sometimes they are permanently disabled. Carbon monoxide can be emitted from faulty domestic heating and cooking appliances. For the latest data see

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas, which can be emitted from the burning of any fuel.  The fuels that we use on a daily basis all contain carbon. Sources of carbon include, wood, charcoal, oil, natural gas and petrol. When we burn these fuels the carbon combines with oxygen in the air. If there is enough air, carbon dioxide is produced. Carbon dioxide or CO 2 is formed from one atom of carbon and two atoms of oxygen.  Carbon monoxide, CO is formed from one atom of carbon and one atom of oxygen. So you can see that the less oxygen there is at the flame the more likely it is that carbon monoxide will be formed. This is why it is so important to burn fuels in a well-ventilated area. Do not block vents or air grilles and make sure you have some ventilation. If there is enough oxygen reaching the flame carbon dioxide will be formed, NOT carbon monoxide.

As an extra safeguard buy a CO alarm to European Standards EN50291. Remember a smoke alarm is NOT a CO alarm. When we burn any solid fuel and CO is produced this is not normally a problem as all the smoke and gasses should pass harmlessly out the top of the chimney. If however the chimney is blocked or leaky, the appliance is faulty or if the ventilation to the fire is inadequate, CO gas may enter your property. This can happen in a different room from the location of the fire. Please be carbon monoxide aware!

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

The early symptoms of CO poisoning are usually similar to common ailments such as upset stomach, tiredness and flu. The common symptoms can include:Image showing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Aware logo

  • Headaches
  • Breathlessness
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Dizziness or Collapse
  • Chest and/or stomach pains
  • Erratic behaviour and/or Visual problems
 Actions to take in a CO emergency 
  • If you suspect fumes are escaping from your combustion appliance into your home, or your carbon monoxide alarm goes off.
  • If your appliance is automatically fed with fuel, turn the appliance off.
  • Open doors and windows to ventilate the building.
  • Leave the building immediately and don’t return until your appliance or boiler has extinguished and the air in the room is clear.
  • If you feel unwell go to your Doctor, call NHS Direct on 111 (where available) or,  if it is urgent phone 999 for an ambulance. Tell them you feel your symptoms may be related to carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Before you reuse the appliance, have it serviced by a HETAS Registered Installer and the chimney swept.
  •  Do not use the appliance until you are told it is safe to do so.
Protect yourself from CO 

CO alarms should be regularly tested and should not be regarded as a substitute for regular maintenance of the appliance and chimney.