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Carbon Monoxide – Do You Know The Facts?

*This is a paid collaboration*

This month is Carbon Monoxide Awareness Month, to mark the occasion npower have released findings from its annual carbon monoxide (CO) research to highlight how much of a risk CO poisoning is to everyone in the UK. The results are quite frightening and show that there is a clear difference between people’s awareness of CO poisoning and the actual understanding of what the symptoms are, which appliances can be a cause and also what people should do if they suspect they are suffering from CO poisoning.

Last week our boiler we had our annual boiler service. The engineer who came out took less than 30 minutes to check our boiler, gas meter and gas hob – if you haven’t already get your gas appliances and boiler checked too – they should be done once a year and preferably before winter when you are going to use your gas appliances the most. He said that we were more likely to have a gas leak and suffer CO poisoning from our hob than our boiler (but that we didn’t need to worry about it as both of our were safe) but he was pleased to see that we have two Carbon Monoxide detectors in our home so should we get a leak we would be alerted immediately – we have one alarm in the hallway downstairs and one in the cupboard where our boiler lives upstairs.

Did You Know:

  • That Carbon monoxide is produced when fuels such as gas, oil, coal and wood don’t fully burn. Incorrectly installed, poorly maintained or poorly ventilated household appliances such as boilers, cookers and fires – both gas and solid fuel, can all be causes of Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning.
  • Between 1995 and 2015, only 35 percent of deaths from CO poisoning was from mains gas appliances or heating. The other 65 percent was caused by appliances that burn solid fuel, portable gas bottles or petrol and diesel.
  • More than a third of UK homes (33.7%) aren’t fitted with a CO alarm
  • Only 5% of the UK can identify the most common symptoms of CO poisoning
  • Just a third of the UK (35.2%) know that a log burner can be a potential cause of CO poisoning
  • Over a third (42%) say they would not go to hospital if they thought they were suffering from CO poisoning

The research showed that Britons could be worryingly underprepared to spot cases of CO poisoning. Despite 96 percent of the UK (95.8%) saying they know CO poisoning can be fatal, less than five percent (4.5%) are actually able to correctly identify the most common symptoms. This is extremely worrying.

Signs of Carbon Monoxide poisoning include:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tiredness and confusion
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
  • Stomach pain is one of the most common symptoms of CO poisoning.

One in six people (15.1%) incorrectly think a metallic taste in your mouth would be a symptom and one in ten (9.6%) think a fever would be a symptom. Although many symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to flu, a fever would never be a symptom.

One in four people (25.3%) don’t know that CO has no smell, and well over a third (43%) admit they wouldn’t know what to do if there was a CO leak in their home. Each year in the UK over 200 people are admitted to hospital with suspected CO poisoning and around 50 people die unnecessarily from it. This new research suggests people in the UK are unaware of what the symptoms of CO poisoning are, so the true number of people affected could potentially be much higher.

Remember Carbon Monoxide:

  • IS completely invisible
  • Has NO smell
  • Has NO taste
  • The ONLY definitive way to detect a leak is with a CO alarm, but despite this, less than two-thirds of UK homes (59.4%) have one installed.

If you have an alarm and it does go off you need to:

  • Open all windows
  • Turn off all gas appliances
  • Don’t turn on any lights, smoke or light a match or lighter
  • Leave the house
  • Seek medical advice if you are suffering from any of the symptoms mentioned already
  • Gas the Emergency Service on 0800 111 999. If you use oil to heat your home, call Oftec on 01473 626 298
  • Make an appointment to have your appliances serviced

For more information about carbon monoxide and to find out how to protect your family, visit:


*Research surveyed 2,000 people across the UK (conducted by Census Wide), aged 16 and above.*

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