What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odourless, tasteless & extremely toxic gas that can be fatal when inhaled.

Cause: CO is a result of incomplete combustion of fossil-fuels such as natural gas, bottled gas, solid fuels (wood, coal etc). If you have a combustion appliance that uses fossil fuels, then you are at risk.

Outcome: CO is absorbed by the red blood cells in the lungs in preference to oxygen, resulting in oxygen starvation & rapid damage to the heart & brain. The longer CO gas is breathed in and the higher its concentration, the worse the symptoms become including headaches, dizziness, loss of vision and memory and eventually unconsciousness and death.

Potential sources of CO:

Prevention: There are a number of actions you can take to reduce the risk of CO poisoning:

  1. Choose all fuel burning appliances with care and have them professionally installed and regularly maintained
  2. Ensure any air vents, chimneys and flues are not blocked.
  3. Never leaver your car, motor bike or lawnmower engine running in the garage with the garage door closed.
  4. Never use a gas cooker or a barbecue for home heating
  5. Leaving windows or doors slightly open will significantly reduce the risk of high levels of CO occurring.

As Carbon Monoxide can’t be seen, smelt, tasted or heard, the only way to know if CO is present in your home is to install a CO Alarm and to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of CO poisoning.

Action: If your CO Alarm sounds loudly or if you suspect the presence of CO gas in your home, do the following:

  Turn off all fuel appliances where possible and stop using them
  Evacuate the property
  Ring your fuel supplier on their emergency number


Note: When a room is ventilated, the CO build up may have dissipated by the time help arrives and the Alarm may have stopped sounding. Although your problem may appear temporarily solved it is crucial that the source of the CO is determined, and appropriate repairs made.