Carbon monoxide poisoning: avoiding gas leaks from faulty appliances


The danger of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning due to poorly-maintained, badly-fitted gas appliances is among the key messages to homeowners on Gas Safety week.

Carbon monoxide poisoning has caused over 50 deaths in the past 12 months, with more than 4,000 people taken to hospital, according to official Department of Health statistics.

However, since the symptoms of low-level CO poisoning, including cold, flu and general tiredness, are not usually associated with gas, the problem may be even more widespread.

Carbon monoxide can be leaked by all faulty central heating systems, gas cookers and gas fires. But with no taste, colour or smell, the gas can be hard to detect without the help of a carbon monoxide detector, or via regular safety checks and professional service.

"Clearly it's important to take great care of gas boilers, ovens and freestanding cookers, both during installation and when you have them regularly serviced," said Bryan Nott, a partner with Simpson Millar LLP and an expert in consumer protection affairs. "Remember only to use a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer, and confirm they're properly accredited by asking to see their ID card."

Gas Safe Register research found that 43% of people do not have their gas appliances regularly serviced. Despite the potential dangers from CO poisoning, 1 in 10 said they had an appliance which had never been checked.

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