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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING  WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS ?

 

Unsafe gas appliances produce a highly poisonous gas called carbon monoxide (CO). It can cause death as well as serious long term health problems such as brain damage.

Remember the six main symptoms to look out for:

  1. headaches
  2. dizziness
  3. nausea
  4. breathlessness
  5. collapse
  6. loss of consciousness

Being aware of the symptoms could save your life.

Carbon monoxide symptoms are similar to flu, food poisoning, viral infections and simply tiredness. That’s why it’s quite common for people to mistake this very dangerous poisoning for something else.

Other signs that could point to carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Your symptoms only occur when you are at home
  • Your symptoms disappear or get better when you leave home and come back when you return
  • Others in your household are experiencing symptoms (including your pets) and they appear at a similar time

What should I do if I experience any symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

  • Get fresh air immediately. Open doors and windows, turn off gas appliances and leave the house
  • See your doctor immediately or go to hospital – let them know that you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning. They can do a blood or breath test to check
  • If you think there is immediate danger, call the Gas Emergency Helpline
  • Get a Gas Safe registered engineer to inspect your gas appliances and flues to see if there is a dangerous problem

Don’t assume your gas appliances are safe: get a Gas Safe registered gas engineer to do a check. This is the only safe way to prevent yourself and those around you from incurring serious illness or death due to carbon monoxide exposure.

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a highly poisonous substance produced by the incomplete burning of gas and Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG).

This happens when a gas appliance has been incorrectly fitted, badly repaired or poorly maintained. It can also occur if flues, chimneys or vents are blocked.

Oil and solid fuels such as coal, wood, petrol and oil can also produce carbon monoxide.

What is carbon monoxide poisoning?

Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when you breathe in even small amounts of the gas.
When you breathe in carbon monoxide, it gets into your blood stream and prevents your red blood cells from carrying oxygen. Without oxygen, your body tissue and cells die.
Levels that do not kill can cause serious harm to health when breathed in over a long period of time. Long term effects of carbon monoxide poisoning include Paralysis and brain damage. Such long term effects occur because many people are unaware of unsafe gas appliances and subsequent gas leaks.

 

How do I avoid a carbon monoxide leak in my home?

Your home may show signs of carbon monoxide. Any one of the following could be a sign that there is carbon monoxide in your home.

  • The flame on your cooker should be crisp and blue. Lazy yellow or orange flames mean you need to get your cooker checked
  • Dark staining around or on appliances
  • Pilot lights that frequently blow out
  • Increased condensation inside windows

If you have a faulty appliance in your home, it could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.Get your gas appliances checked to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

Why should I get a carbon monoxide alarm?

Because carbon monoxide has no taste, smell or colour. Gas Safe Register strongly recommends you fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm in your home.

While an alarm will alert you to carbon monoxide in your home, it is no substitute for having an annual gas safety check and regular servicing by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

A carbon monoxide alarm looks similar to a smoke alarm and is very easy to fit by following the manufacturer’s instructions. You can purchase a carbon monoxide alarm from £15 at your local DIY store, supermarket or from your energy supplier.

Before purchasing a carbon monoxide alarm, always make sure it is marked to EN 50291. It should also have the British Standards’ Kitemark or another European approval organisation’s mark on it. Follow the alarm manufacturer’s instructions on siting, testing and replacing the alarm.

You are particularly at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning while sleeping, as you may not be aware of early carbon monoxide symptoms until it’s too late. Do not use the ‘black spot’ detectors that change colour when carbon monoxide is present. These will not make a sound to wake you up if the poisonous gas is present while you are sleeping.

Landlords and Gas

 

Landlords have specific legal responsibilities to their tenants when it comes to Gas Safety in rented properties

Understanding the law for rental accommodation

As a landlord, you are responsible for the safety of your tenants. Landlords’ duties apply to a wide range of accommodation, occupied under a lease or licence, which includes, but not exclusively:

  • residential premises provided for rent by local authorities, housing associations, private sector landlords, housing co-operatives, hostels
  • rooms let in bed-sit accommodation, private households, bed and breakfast accommodation and hotels
  • rented holiday accommodation such as chalets, cottages, flats, caravans and narrow boats on inland waterways.

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 deal with landlords’ duties to make sure gas appliances, fittings and flues provided for tenants are safe.

Landlord’s responsibilities

If you let a property equipped with gas appliances you have three main responsibilities:

  • Maintenance: pipework, appliances and flues must be maintained in a safe condition. Gas appliances should be serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If these are not available it is recommended that they are serviced annually unless advised otherwise by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
  • Gas safety checks: a 12 monthly gas safety check must be carried out on every gas appliance/flue.  A gas safety check will make sure gas fittings and appliances are safe to use.
  • Record: a record of the annual gas safety check must be provided to your tenant within 28 days of the check being completed or to new tenants before they move in. Landlords must keep copies of the gas safety record for two years.

All installation, maintenance and safety checks need to be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

If a tenant has their own gas appliance that you have not provided, then you are responsible for the maintenance of the gas pipework but not for the actual appliance.

You should also make sure your tenants know where to turn off the gas and what to do in the event of a gas emergency.

What if my tenant won’t allow me access to the property?

The contract you draw up with the tenant should allow you access for any maintenance or safety check work to be carried out. You have to take ‘all reasonable steps’ to ensure this work is carried out, and this may involve giving written notice to a tenant requesting access, and explaining the reason. Keep a record of any action, in case a tenant refuses access and you have to demonstrate what steps have been taken.

Visit the H.S.E. website for more information about landlords responsibility for gas safety.

What if I’m only renting my property for a short period of time?

Even if a property is only rented for a short period of time, perhaps only a week as a holiday home, you are still a landlord and have specific duties for gas safety.

Supporting Independent Plumbers

Supporting Independent Plumbers

We’ve launched our new website , aimed at supporting Independent Plumbers & Heating Engineers.

Why?

Well mainly because the founder, Chris, has worked in the Gas Industry since the days of “if you see Sid tell him” – if you don’t know what that is, you can be sure he’s worked in it longer than you !

Okay so why now?

We are firm believers in freedom of choice and price for the consumer, in all areas of commerce. Just look at the state for the average UK High Street. We don’t want the “monopoly situation” taking over in our business too!

It is not uncommon these days for the BIG players ( you know who ) in our industry to charge ludicrous amounts for mediocre customer care & average workmanship.

They can do this just because they have large brand awareness. This means unaware customers perceive a greater level of customer service and care just because they are big.

We beg to differ – we know that many one person & small businesses can offer a much greater level of customer care than most of the corporate empires put together. 

We aim to support Independent Plumber & Heating Engineers by raising your profiles & brand awareness to the general public and championing your work and skills.

We have already built up a steady Twitter following and had some fun, but our aim is to shout about the independent installers from the chimney tops (or flue liners).

We are ready to do some serious work on your behalf and you can help us  make it happen too. 

We have included a Installers Discussion Forum so that you can support each other and raise issues you wish us to help you with.

So , add your new listing , register on the Forum and lets make 2016 the best year ever for the independents.

Nicki Cross

The Plumbing Directory Team