Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Detecting deadly gas and fumes

Simpson Millar LLP Solicitors strongly recommends the use of Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarms/Detectors. However, we also believe more should be done to educate you about these alarms/detectors and their limitations. They are an important and useful part of a household’s protection against carbon monoxide poisoning, however other safety measures such as annual servicing and your own awareness of the signs and symptoms to look out for are still vital.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms - Preventing Co poisoning Claims

Types of CO Alarm/Detector

  • British Standard approved carbon monoxide alarm with Audible tone – lasts approx 5 years
  • Old fashioned - Cardboard detector that works on the "spot" principle that will change colour if carbon monoxide gas is detected – lasts approx 6 months

Audible alarms are the safest as a spot detector will not alert you to the potential dangers eg what happens when you are sleeping?

An audible detector will look for the presence of the toxic gas, carbon monoxide. This gas is especially dangerous due to its colourless and odourless properties.

The alarm works on the principal that if a high level of CO is detected, it will sound, alerting you and your family to the potential dangers, giving you the chance to ventilate the area or safely leave the building. At high levels, breathing CO gas is fatal within minutes.

Important facts you should know about audible carbon monoxide alarms/detectors

  • They are NOT like smoke detectors
  • They are only designed to last up to 5 years
  • The test button does not and cannot test the sensor on the alarm, merely the battery/circuitry
  • They can be seriously affected by:
    • moisture
    • cigarette smoke due to its high carbon monoxide particles
  • Some have a sensor that must be replaced every year
  • Some are battery operated so will still function if there is a power cut
  • If you have a line-powered alarm look for one that has a battery back up option
  • Always look for a long-term warranty and one that can be easily self-tested and reset to ensure it functions properly

What do I do if my carbon monoxide alarm goes off?

  • Switch off all gas/fossil fuel appliances immediately
  • Open doors and windows
  • Call an approved Corgi registered engineer or your gas leak helpline on 0800 111 999
  • Ensure anyone suffering symptoms of CO poisoning is seen by a doctor immediately

Preventing CO poisoning

It is extremely important to note that an appropriate CO detector will only give you some protection and is no substitute for getting your appliances checked/serviced every year by an approved corgi registered engineer.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning - Make an enquiry

If you or a member of your family has suffered due to effects of carbon monoxide poisoning you could be entitled to compensation. Call our specialist carbon monoxide solicitors now on freephone: 0808 129 3320 or complete our online enquiry form and we will call you back.


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Gavin Evans | Partner &  Head of Industrial Disease | Simpson Millar LLP

Gavin Evans
Partner & Head of Industrial Disease

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