Carbon Monoxide is invisible, silent, colourless and odourless. But above all, it’s lethal.
CO is produced by burning fuels such as coal, wood and gas. Old chimneys, unlined flues and faulty boilers can all allow CO to leak out. It’s then absorbed into your bloodstream, replacing the oxygen in your red blood cells. This can have dire consequences resulting in tissue and organ damage, and even death.
Here’s a look at the common symptoms and causes of CO poisoning, and what you can do to protect your home.
Many people are not even aware that CO is leaking into their home so it’s important to be aware of the danger signs. The following symptoms may indicate CO poisoning:
- Flu-like symptoms
Do you feel better when you go away only to notice that the symptoms get worse when you return home?
Are other people in the house experiencing the same symptoms?
Are the symptoms more intense during the winter when the house is closed up?
If you suspect CO poisoning, immediately evacuate the area and call the emergency services. Hospital treatment involves mask therapy that delivers 100% oxygen to feed the blood cells and flush out the CO.
The most likely causes of CO poisoning are:
- Blocked chimney flues
- A dirty chimney
- Unlined flues or old liners that need replacing
- Malfunctioning boilers
- Poor ventilation of appliances
CO leakage can be easily prevented by the following measures:
- Regular chimney sweeping
- A chimney integrity check
- The installation of new flue liners
- The installation of a CO alarm that will monitor the levels of CO in the atmosphere and activate if CO is present
- A regular boiler service
- Proper ventilation of appliances