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Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service warns of dangers posed by Carbon Monoxide

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) is warning people about the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning during CO Awareness Week, which runs from Monday, 20 November to Sunday, 26 November.

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that is produced when fossil fuels burn inefficiently. Each year in the UK, over 200 people are hospitalised with suspected CO poisoning, leading to around 60 deaths annually.

The most common sources of carbon monoxide are faulty boilers, gas fires and cookers. However, as people look for cheaper ways to heat their homes during the cost-of-living crisis, alternative heating sources such as disposable barbecues have been found to have caused CO poisoning.

Gail Muirhead, Prevention Manager, said; “We recognise that people are trying to keep costs down as the cost-of-living crisis continues. However, cutting corners costs lives and it is important not to place you or your loved ones at risk.

“Carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer for a reason. You can’t smell, see or taste it. The only way to adequate protect yourself is to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home and ensure that it works.”

To protect yourself and your loved ones from carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Install a working carbon monoxide alarm in your every room with a fuel-burning appliance such as an open fire, wood-burning stove or gas appliances such as a boiler or cooker  and ensure that it works;
  • In England and Wales, landlords have a duty of care to make sure Carbon Monoxide alarms are installed where required in rental properties;
  • If you suspect a CO leak in your home, call the emergency Gas Safety Board number – 0800 111 999. This number is available 24/7 and is ready for emergencies;
  • Never cut corners. Saving on safety can have fatal consequences. Never use outdoor cooking or heating equipment inside;
  • Always employ a professional to install and maintain appliances and ensure they are serviced every year; and
  • Always ensure there is adequate ventilation if you’re cooking or using an open flame indoors. Avoid blocking vents and open windows when vehicle traffic is low outside. Limited airflows indoors can allow CO to build up very quickly to deadly levels.

Being aware of the symptoms of CO poisoning can save your life. They symptoms are not always obvious and can often be mistaken for flu-like illnesses:

  • Tension-type headache;
  • Nausea;
  • Dizziness;
  • Breathlessness; and
  • Collapse and loss of consciousness.