There are 50 fatal carbon monoxide (CO) incidents and more than 200 people hospitalised with suspected CO poisoning every year in the UK.
This ‘Carbon Monoxide Awareness Month’, which runs every November in Northern Ireland, OFTEC is raising awareness of the dangers associated with non-maintained fuel appliances.
OFTEC, which represents the domestic oil heating and cooking industry in the UK and Ireland, has issued five essential tips to help protect the public from the dangers of the ‘silent killer’.
- Service your appliances annually. Get your appliances serviced annually by an OFTEC registered technician to ensure maximum efficiency and make sure the appliance is not leaking CO. OFTEC registered technicians are recommended by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), the Consumer Council and NI Direct.
- Ensure proper ventilation near heating appliances. Quick ways to ventilate your home include opening a window after cooking, in the bathroom after a shower and keeping internal doors open to let the air flow around your home. Do not block any ventilators installed for solid fuel stoves.
- Ensure all chimneys are regularly swept and kept clear. Chimneys and flues can allow CO to invade living spaces without you knowing it. Chimneys should be swept annually.
- Install an audible CO alarm. This will alert you to any CO in your property. However, this is not a replacement for regular inspection of appliances, vents, flues and chimneys. A CO alarm should be CE marked and positioned correctly.
- Suspect an appliance is faulty? Don’t use it. If you see staining around a flue, notice unusual smells or are feeling nauseous when indoors in the room with a heat generating appliance, get out, switch off the appliance and have it checked by a registered, qualified technician to ensure it is safe before use.
OFTEC manager, David Blevings, said: “CO is a highly poisonous gas which in high levels can kill in as little as three minutes earning it the name ‘the silent killer’. We fully support CO safety month and are working hard to raise awareness of how to prevent CO poisoning and keep people safe.
“With 50 people every year dying from CO poisoning in the UK, it is vital that householders understand the importance of checking their home heating systems annually for leaks, damage or defects, including oil or gas boilers as well as solid fuel appliances.
“The HSE advises that all heating appliances should be serviced annually by an OFTEC Registered Technician to ensure maximum efficiency and to make sure the appliance is not leaking CO. Householders face a greater risk if they have appliances ‘fixed’ by so-called ‘cowboys’ who may not be qualified or deemed competent to work in your home. You can’t detect CO without a flue gas analyser so make sure your technician uses one to service your appliance.”.
For more information on Carbon Monoxide Awareness month, visit: www.hseni.gov.uk/articles/carbon-monoxide-awareness-month