Carbon Monoxide poisoning - what are the risks?

According to SEAI, On average between 1 and 2 people die each year in Ireland from unintentional CO poisoning in the home in incidents related to domestic heating or other fossil fuel installations. With this in mind, it is vital that you make sure you know the risks and how to prevent CO poisoning.

What are the symptoms to look out for?

When CO is inhaled into the body it combines with the blood, preventing it from absorbing oxygen. If a person is exposed to CO over a period, it can cause illness and even death. Carbon Monoxide is so dangerous because you can’t see, smell, taste or hear it. It is sometimes called the “Silent Killer”. Therefore you need to be extra vigilant when looking out for the symptoms of CO poisoning.

CO 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.

Read more: Natural gas tips - safety begins at home

How can I prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?

If you own your property, it is your responsibility to make sure that all your gas appliances are serviced and checked on an annual basis. It is essential that you use a RGII – Approved Gas Engineer, as only registered engineers are legally allowed to install and service gas appliances in your home.

If you are living in rented accommodation, your landlord has the responsibility under Statutory Instrument SI.534 of 2008 Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2008 to ensure that the gas installation in your house or apartment is maintained in good repair and safe working order.

Fitting a carbon monoxide alarm in your home is extremely important. You can purchase these alarms from most DIY stores in Ireland and they can be fitted to your wall or ceiling with ease. If CO levels in a room ever rise above normal, you will be alerted immediately with a high pitch alarm warning sound. In the event of this happening, you should leave your property and contact an engineer straight away.

If you’re in the Republic of Ireland and have any problems with gas in your property, you can call the Gas Networks Ireland 24 hour Emergency line: 1850 20 50 50.