Dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning highlighted as cold snap continues

Carbon monoxide poisoning kills 60 people and hospitalises 4,000 every year in the UK.
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As the UK’s cold snap continues, Northern Gas Networks is urging people across the North of England to familiarise themselves with the potential causes of carbon monoxide poisoning and take some simple steps to keep them and their families safe this winter.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous, colourless and odourless gas that is produced when carbon fuels are burnt. It can leak from incorrectly fitted, badly repaired or poorly maintained gas appliances as well as flues, chimneys and blocked vents.

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You can’t see or smell it, so you can’t detect it if it begins to build up in your home, and if you breathe it in, it can make you seriously ill.

Eileen Brown, Customer Experience Director at Northern Gas Networks, said: “In the past year alone, our emergency response engineers have responded to over 2,600 calls to the National Gas Emergency Service from customers in the North of England, where engineers have either confirmed or suspected Carbon Monoxide (CO) and made the situation safe, highlighting the danger that the poisonous gas can pose.

“Cold weather increases the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning as people use their heating, appliances and fires more, so we’re urging everyone to be extra vigilant and ensure their boilers, appliances and flus are in good working order. It’s also really important to get an audible carbon monoxide alarm and regularly check it’s working, as carbon monoxide is a silent killer and you cannot smell, taste or see it.”

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The causes of CO poisoning and steps to take to stay safe:

1. Car exhaust fumes

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A build-up of car exhaust fumes can cause CO poisoning, and on cold winter mornings many of us spend time warming up our car engines before setting off. To avoid this danger, never leave your car running in an enclosed garage – even with the doors open – as it only takes a couple of minutes for a large amount of CO to build up in a small space.

2. Gas boilers

To make sure your boiler is winter ready, have it serviced every year by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

3. Gas fires and cookers

Older, faulty or badly installed gas fires and cookers can be dangerous, so you need to take care when using them.

Lazy yellow and orange flames, as well as a pilot light that frequently blows out, can be a sign that your cooker or fire isn’t working properly and could be leaking CO. If you notice these signs, turn off the appliance immediately and have it checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

4. Log burners and open fires

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Log burners and open fires help to keep many of us cosy over the winter, but they need a clear, clean, well-functioning flue or chimney to allow smoke to escape and ensure CO doesn’t build up inside your home.

5. Invest in an audible CO alarm.

Similar to a smoke alarm and costing around £15, CO alarms are activated when CO is detected in the air and will sound an alarm to alert you of the danger.

Signs of CO poisoning include headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapse or loss of consciousness.

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If you think you may have carbon monoxide poisoning, immediately turn off the appliance you think may be causing it, open windows and doors, leave the building and seek urgent medical advice. You must also call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999** and an engineer will come straight out to investigate and make the situation safe.

This line is in operation 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

To find out more about how to stay CO safe this winter, visit https://brnw.ch/21wES7y

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