Gas ring on a hob with blue flame

Learn how to protect yourself this Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week

Taking some time to safeguard against the dangers is really important.

Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week takes place every year at the end of September, and this year’s starts next Monday, 25 September.

In general, most of us probably don’t think about carbon monoxide very much - but taking the time to make sure your home is protected against the dangers of it is really important.

What is Carbon Monoxide and where does it come from?

Carbon monoxide can be released by any appliance that burns oil, solid fuel, wood or gas - including your gas boiler, if it’s not serviced properly.

It’s a poisonous gas, but it’s non-irritating and it has no smell, colour or taste, so it’s known as the ‘silent killer’.

What are the symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning?

Carbon monoxide poisoning can manifest itself with symptoms similar to those of a hangover, colds or the flu. You may experience unexplained headaches, nausea, dizziness, breathlessness and in extreme cases you might even collapse or lose consciousness.

If you find the symptoms disappear when you leave the house, then it could be that you’re suffering from CO poisoning.

You can read more about the risks from carbon monoxide in our dedicated guide.

How can I protect against Carbon Monoxide poisoning?

There are three main ways to protect against the dangers of carbon monoxide.

1. Get all of your gas appliances serviced and checked on a regular basis

If you own your home, it’s up to you to make sure that all your gas appliances are serviced and checked annually.

You have to use a Registered Gas Installer as only registered engineers are legally allowed to install and service gas appliances in your home. You can find an engineer in your area on the RGII website.

If you’re living in rented accommodation it’s your landlord’s responsibility to make sure that the gas installation in your home is in safe working order so make sure to ask them about this if you’ve been living in the same place for over a year and your appliances haven’t been serviced.

2. Fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm

You can buy carbon monoxide alarms from most DIY shops, and they’re easy to fit. It’s recommend that you fit them high up on the wall or on the ceiling.

According to carbonmonoxide.ie, your carbon monoxide alarm should:

  • Comply with European Standard EN 50291 - this should be marked on the box
  • Carry the CE Mark
  • Have an ‘end of life’ indicator
  • Carry an independent certification mark, for example a kite mark, which indicates that the alarm has been approved by an accredited testing and certification organisation.

The below video gives some information on installing carbon monoxide alarms in your home…

Once the alarm is fitted and working properly, you will hear a high-pitched sound if carbon monoxide levels rise up above normal.

If this happens, you should leave your home immediately and contact a Registered Gas Installer to see what the source of the carbon monoxide is and fix any problems. You can also call the Gas Networks Ireland 24-hour emergency line on 1850 20 50 50 if you have problems with gas in your home.

Make sure your home is well-ventilated.

To make sure you don’t have issues with Carbon Monoxide, it’s really important that your home is well-ventilated.

This will also help to make sure oxygen can enter your home and water vapour, fumes etc. can leave, and you’ll avoid damage like mould or rot.

To help proper ventilation, you should make sure that any vents in your home are kept clean and clear. You should also make sure that any chimneys or flues are clear - and arrange to have them swept annually if you use them for an open fire or stove that burns solid fuel.

Learn more about Carbon Monoxide

To find out more about carbon monoxide, check out carbonmonoxide.ie or call 1850 79 79 79.