Carbon monoxide poisoning

Page updated on: 11/12/2023

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, poisonous gas produced by incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels, including gas, oil, wood and coal. When the fuel does not burn properly excess CO is produced, which is poisonous. You can’t see it, taste it or smell it but CO can kill quickly without warning. Levels that do not kill can cause serious harm to health if breathed in over a long period.

Early symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can be similar to flu like symptoms. Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Tiredness, drowsiness, headaches, giddiness, nausea, vomiting, pains in the chest, breathlessness, stomach pains, erratic behaviour, visual problems

To prevent being exposed to carbon monoxide:

  • Ensure that any work carried out in relation to gas appliances is undertaken by a ‘Gas Safe’ installer, competent in that area of work.
  • Ensure that any work carried out in relation to solid fuel, wood or a biomass unit is undertaken by a ‘HETAS’ installer, competent in that area of work.
  • Appliances and/or flues must be installed and serviced regularly for safety by a competent person
  • Always make sure there is enough fresh air in the room containing your appliance
  • Ensure the chimney or flue is not blocked up and also ensure that vents are not covered over
  • Get your chimney swept from top to bottom at least once a year by a qualified sweep
  • If you have appliances that use other fossil fuels, make sure they are serviced and maintained by a competent person
  • Fit a carbon monoxide detector in your home.