With research showing that one in three homes do not have a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm fitted, despite nine in ten homeowners saying they are aware of the risks*, OFTEC is urging households in Wales to take action to protect themselves from the dangers of CO poisoning.
The warning comes as part of this year’s Carbon Monoxide Awareness Month (November 2019), a national campaign highlighting the potential risks of CO poisoning which kills on average 30 people and hospitalises over 4,000 every year in the UK.
CO is produced when carbon fuels don’t burn properly and any type of heating system where combustion takes place can potentially give off the odourless, colourless gas.
Exposure can result in severe long-term health problems, or even death, with younger and older people as well as pets most at risk. Key symptoms to watch out for are tiredness, dizziness and headaches.
In support of the campaign, OFTEC, the UK trade association for the oil heating industry, is providing some advice on how households in Wales can take simple steps to reduce the risk:
Purchase audible CO alarms
It is important to have an audible CO alarm for every room which has a fuel burning appliance e.g. boiler, woodburner or open fire. They usually cost around £20 each. It is mandatory for private landlords to provide an alarm in rented properties with a solid fuel appliance.
Test and check
If you already have CO alarms installed in your house, you should regularly check to see if they are working correctly. This can be done by simply holding the ‘test’ button. If it isn’t working, you should replace the batteries immediately. Set a reminder to #TestitTuesday.
Avoid blocking ventilation of wood burners and stoves
If you have an open fire, wood burner or stove, it is important to make sure that it has a constant supply of air and is not blocked at any time, so the fuel can combust effectively.
Service your boiler
Ensure you have your boiler serviced at least once a year by an OFTEC (for oil or solid fuel) or GasSafe (for mains gas) registered technician to check it is working efficiently.
What to do if your CO alarm goes off?
Make sure you open all the windows and then leave the room immediately. You should then contact OFTEC or GasSafe. If you experience any symptoms of CO poisoning, call 999.
Malcolm Farrow from OFTEC said: “Carbon monoxide poisoning can have a devastating impact on the lives of the people it affects so it is extremely important households not only understand the potential risks but take the relevant action to prevent them. Landlords should also make sure they are following the correct regulations to ensure the safety of their tenants.”
“By supporting Carbon Monoxide Awareness Month, we hope to bring more attention to this issue. I would also urge others to get involved and help spread the important safety messages.”