Sunday 22 November 2015

Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week

This week was Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week. As a pregnancy and parenting writer, I’ve written before about the importance of having carbon monoxide detectors in or near to the room your baby sleeps in. The smaller you are, the quicker carbon monoxide poisoning can take effect, and the more serious it can be.

Carbon Monoxide is a gas many of us have in our homes. It’s what heats our boilers and fuels our gas fires. It’s also colourless and odorless, meaning it’s not easy to spot when a leak has occurred. Around 200 people are hospitalised with carbon monoxide poisoning each year, and for some of these people it can be fatal. For others, the poisoning can cause serious long term health problems. Children and the elderly are the most at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

My housemates at university once returned home to find the entire house filled with gas. The gas cooker had been unknowingly left on overnight. When I returned home the next day, the windows were still wide open to keep fresh air circulating. Leaving windows open in the student area of Liverpool is not a decision one takes lightly. It is thought that as many as one in 10 adults have experienced some form of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Reducing The Risk
You can reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning by installing carbon monoxide detectors in your home. These detectors let off a beeping sound much like fire alarms, notifying of you of a carbon monoxide leak immediately. Every home should have a carbon monoxide alarm to prevent the risk of poisoning, but currently only half of UK homes a carbon monoxide detector.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is often caused by badly fitted or badly maintained appliances. You should ensure you have your boiler serviced regularly to reduce the risk of a carbon monoxide leak. Bad ventilation is another cause for alarm. If a registered gas engineer fits a new appliance, they should advise you of any necessary additional ventilation. We fitted a new fireplace in our old home and were told to install an air brick to ensure there was enough ventilation.

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