Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is urging people to ensure they have their gas appliances checked by a professional on an at least annual basis, following an increase in carbon monoxide incidents since the weather became colder.
"Carbon monoxide poisoning can very easily be fatal and the detection of the gas without specialist equipment is virtually impossible."
Head of Risk Reduction, Glynn Luznyj
Since April this year the Service has been called to 41 carbon monoxide incidents and of those, 14 homes were found to have carbon monoxide present. Out of the 14, 10 have been since September when the weather became colder.
Head of Risk Reduction, Glynn Luznyj said: “Thankfully the majority of carbon monoxide calls were false alarms, some involving faulty carbon monoxide detectors operating or having a flat battery, however at over one quarter of the incidents attended carbon monoxide was found to be present in the property.
“Carbon monoxide poisoning can very easily be fatal and the detection of the gas without specialist equipment is virtually impossible as it is both colourless and odourless.
“This is why we recommend every home has at least one carbon monoxide detector fitted which should be tested frequently the same as a smoke alarm. Any gas appliance should only ever be fitted, repaired and tested by a registered professional – it is not something anyone unqualified should ever attempt to do as you may have no idea that you’ve caused a leak until it’s too late.
“Carbon monoxide can leak from any gas appliance – including fires and cookers as well as boilers so whilst the majority of calls we receive relate to boilers, other appliances shouldn’t be neglected.”
When the Fire Service is alerted to potential carbon monoxide incidents, firefighters attend the address and use gas monitors to determine if the dangerous gas is present in the property.
If anyone suffers any carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms, which include dizziness, nausea, headaches, vomiting or confusion they should immediately vacate the property and seek medical advice.
Glynn added: “If you suspect carbon monoxide is leaking into your home, open doors and windows immediately to ventilate, if possible turn off any gas appliances and leave the property.
“Others ways to tell if carbon monoxide may be the cause of your symptoms, which can be similar to flu symptoms, are other members of the household feeling the same or pets becoming ill unexpectedly without obvious reason as carbon monoxide often affects animals before humans.”
John Woodhall, who is a paramedic and Support Manager with the West Midlands HART Team, said: “The vast majority of people now have smoke alarms. Having a carbon monoxide alarm similarly doesn’t cost much, but what price can you put on the life of a loved one?
“Carbon monoxide is released when carbon-containing fuel such as gas, oil, coal, petrol or wood, does not burn fully because not enough air is available. The majority of cases of carbon monoxide poisoning are due to faulty combustion heating and cooking appliances.
“Please don’t take the chance, get an alarm fitted and make sure it, along with your smoke alarm, works each week. Your life could depend on it.”
Your home may show signs of carbon monoxide. Any one of the following could be a sign that there is carbon monoxide in your home.
• The flame on your cooker should be crisp and blue. Lazy yellow or orange flames mean you need to get your cooker checked
• Dark staining around or on appliances
• Pilot lights that frequently blow out
• Increased condensation inside windows
The Fire Service is unable to provide carbon monoxide alarms however these can be purchased from most DIY stores and larger supermarkets.
If you suspect a gas leak in the home you should contact the gas board however if you feel unwell with potential carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms you should call 999.