Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas produced when fossil fuels like gas, coal, oil or wood are burnt where there's not enough oxygen. Faulty appliances can give off carbon monoxide, which can build up in your home when there's poor ventilation.
Carbon monoxide is colourless, odourless and can be fatal.
You can't taste, smell or see carbon monoxide. But it's easy to spot signs that your gas or heating appliances could be producing it.
Danger signs can include:
Recognising the early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning saves lives.
The symptoms are similar to the flu and include:
If you experience these symptoms but feel better when you're outside or away from your home, it's possible that you're suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.
If you think that there may be carbon monoxide in your home, there are some steps to take to prevent it affecting your health:
If you or someone you're with is feeling ill, visit your doctor urgently. Explain that symptoms may be related to CO poisoning and ask that they test a blood or breath sample.
If someone is seriously ill from poisoning it's vital that they leave the room and get fresh air. You should call for medical help urgently. Make sure that when help arrives you tell them that you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning. This will ensure they get the appropriate treatment quickly.
There are some simple things you can do to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:
The most important thing to find out when buying a carbon monoxide alarm is if it meets current British and European safety standards.
Look for an alarm that carries the EN 50291 standard and the British Standards Kitemark. Don't buy an alarm that doesn't meet these standards.
Always choose an audible alarm, so that you'll be alerted if you're asleep, and closely follow the manufacturer's instructions when installing it.
There's lots of help out there to help you stay safe. The Be Alarmed! Campaign is run by Energy UK on behalf of Britain's six major gas and electricity companies and is supported by more than 40 other organisations.