Gas Safety Advice

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that is odourless, colourless and tasteless. It can be given off by any appliance in rented or private accommodation, including a heater, a boiler or a fire, that burns gas, coal, oil or wood.

Having no colour, smell or taste means that it is very hard to detect. Inhaling carbon monoxide reduces the blood's ability to carry oxygen, leaving the body's organs and cells starved of oxygen.

Each year over 50 people die in the UK as a direct result of exposure to carbon monoxide gas. Many more people die through strokes and respiratory illness made worse by inhaling low levels of carbon monoxide over prolonged periods, and still more are left with permanent damage and invalidity.

You are at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning if:

     Your appliance was poorly installed.
     Your appliance is not working properly.
     Your appliance has not been checked for safety or maintained regularly.
     There is not enough fresh air in the room.
     Your chimney or flue gets blocked (for example, by a bird's nest).
     You allow engineers who are not registered with the Gas Safe Register to install or maintain your appliance(s).
     You leave your car engine running in a garage or other enclosed space.

Appliance warning signs

     Gas flames burn orange or yellow instead of blue.
     Stains, soot or discolouring are visible around fire or water heater.
     An unusual smell when the appliance is on.
     Solid fuel appliances that burn slowly, or go out.
     The fire is difficult to light.
     Pilot light frequently blows out.
     Increased condensation inside the window.

Physical warning signs includ Unexpected:

     Chest pains
     Short term memory loss
     Loss of muscle control

If you think you have any of the symptoms

     Get to fresh air immediately
     Open doors and windows to ventilate the room
     Turn off all appliances and do not reuse
     Visit your GP urgently
     Contact an installer/technician registered with the Gas Safe Register to inspect any defective fuel burning appliance and get your chimney/flue (smoke duct in a chimney) inspected

Safety tips

     Make sure chimneys and flues are regularly swept by a competent sweeper.
     Boilers and heating systems and appliances should be installed, maintained and regularly serviced by a competent engineer (for gas appliances, make sure they are registered with the Gas Safe Register).
     Buy appliances from reputable dealers. Make sure they meet the appropriate U.K. or E.U. safety requirements.
     Insist on a guarantee from the dealer and a copy of the user instructions.
     By law, gas appliances must be fitted and maintained by registered with the Gas Safe installer.
     Make sure heaters are well clear of curtains, furniture and bedding.
     Have all your gas appliances serviced regularly by an registered Gas Safe installer (Once a year for gas fires and boilers). Ensure this includes a safety check to make sure flues are working properly.
     Make sure heaters are well clear of curtains, furniture and bedding.

     Never cook a barbecue indoors - the charcoal gives off carbon monoxide.
     Avoid buying second-hand appliances - if you do, make sure they have been tested for safety.
     Never install or reconnect an appliance yourself.
     Ventilation is vital - never obstruct or block any vent.

Advice when moving into new accommodation

     Ask to see a copy of the current Gas Landlords Certificate. This is a record of safety checks carried out.
      Ensure the safety checks were carried out by an engineer registered with the Gas Safe Register.
     Fit a carbon monoxide detector
     Carbon monoxide detectors should comply with British Standard BS 7860.
     They should be used as early warning indicators only - they are not a substitute for regular servicing.
     One detector should be installed at knee height near the sleeping area of your home.
     Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper use and maintenance.
     Use detectors as warnings only - do not replace regular checks with detectors.
     Carbon monoxide detectors do not replace the need for smoke detectors.
     Do not use any gas appliances that you think may be unsafe.
     Carbon monoxide detectors should not be installed near smoke alarms or fuel-burning appliances.
     Do not attempt DIY work on appliances.

For more information about the Gas Safe Register, which replaced CORGI gas registration in Great Britain on 1 April 2009, visit

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