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Be aware of carbon monoxide dangers

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service and Cadent Gas are aiming to increase awareness about the dangers of carbon monoxide and how to keep safe from it at home.

Watch manager Jackson Kidd, who leads the fire service’s on-call support team, said: “Carbon monoxide has the potential to kill without warning as you can’t see it, taste it, or smell it.

“Last year around 60 people lost their lives to carbon monoxide with fire and rescue services across the country seeing an increase in CO-related incidents.

“During the winter months, Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service respond to more carbon monoxide incidents than any other time of the year.”

CO poisoning can be caused by gas appliances and flues that have not been installed correctly, maintained effectively or those which are poorly ventilated.

Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning:

CO gas is known as the ‘silent killer’ as it has no smell, taste, or colour.

People often don’t realise that they are being overcome by fumes until it is too late.

Early symptoms of CO poisoning can mimic many common illnesses and may easily be confused with food poisoning, viral infections, flu, or simple tiredness.

The symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapse, and loss of consciousness, which can easily be mistaken for something else.

It can be produced by any appliances burning gas, wood, oil or coal.

Around 15 million households in the UK are at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning because they do not have an audible alarm.

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service is working with Cadent Gas to increase the awareness and understanding of the risks associated with carbon monoxide.

Keep your household safe with these precautions:

  1. Fit an audible alarm – Audible  alarms can be bought from many DIY stores, supermarkets, and energy suppliers for around £20.
  2. If you are a tenant, your landlord may provide you with one. The use of ‘back spot’ indicators are not recommended as these are often inaccurate and will not alert or wake you if carbon monoxide is present.
  3. Service your appliances – Make sure all fuel-burning appliances are serviced annually by an engineer who is qualified and registered with the appropriate organisation: Gas Safe Register (gas), HETAS (solid fuel) or OFTEC (oil). If you live in rented accommodation with gas appliances your landlord must provide you with proof that a registered engineer has serviced, the gas appliances within the last 12 months.
  4. Don’t block ventilation – Make sure that vents, flues, and chimneys aren’t blocked. Chimneys should be swept at least once a year – or more often if used heavily.
  5. Know the signs – The six main symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapse, and loss of consciousness. A key indication that carbon monoxide may be the cause is if symptoms disappear or get better when you leave the home and come back when you return. Look out for staining on or around your appliance and for gas appliances burning with a lazy yellow or orange flame rather than a sharp blue one. Excessive condensation in the room where the appliance is installed is another sign.

You can request a free safe and well visit from Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service to make sure your  detector is working and to get advice on making your home as protected as possible from fire risk.

You can also call the gas emergency number on 0800 111 999.

You can find out more information at  https://cumbria.gov.uk/cumbriafire/services/safetyathome/default.asp