You can’t see, hear or smell it but if a lot of it gathers in your home it can be deadly to you and your family. Every year about 2 people in Ireland die from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning and many more have lucky escapes.
A survey conducted by AIG Ireland showed almost 50% of people in Ireland don’t have a carbon monoxide monitor in their home. While most of us wouldn’t dream of not having a fire alarm, this equally deadly threat isn’t monitored in many homes.
Carbon monoxide is produced when there is a fault with a heating appliance that uses fossil fuel, think open fire, gas powered heater or an oil boiler.
If enough oxygen can’t get to the fuel as it burns it will produce the deadly carbon monoxide as a by-product instead of carbon dioxide (which is the same substance we breathe out) You don’t need to worry if your heating is entirely electric.
There are some easy steps to take to reduce the chances of a heating appliance making carbon monoxide:
1. Ensure all heating appliances are put into your home correctly by a registered professional
2. Have them serviced by a professional every year
3. Have your chimneys swept regularly
4. Don’t use an appliance for anything other than what it was made to do e.g. don’t use a gas patio heater indoors
5. If having work done to your home make sure it doesn’t damage any heating appliances or the air vents and flues they rely on to work properly
If the heat in your home is powered by a fossil fuel, oil, gas or open fire than you need a carbon monoxide detector.
You need a detector in every room with a fossil fuel powered heating device. So if you have an open fire in the living room and a gas powered boiler in the utility room then you need two.
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning centre around headaches, dizziness and feeling sick but how quickly that will happen and long they will last before you are knocked out depends on how much of it is in the air. For example if there are 800 parts per million of carbon monoxide in the air you may feel unwell for 45min before losing consciousness. If it is double that amount, at 1600 you only have 20min before you may collapse. The most important thing to remember is if you feel any of these warning signs get out of the house into fresh air straight away. Then call for urgent medical advice. Make sure no one re-enters the house has been made safe by a professional.
That’s the best news, they don’t cost much about €20 for an alarm that could save your life and they are available from most home or hardware shops. Easy peasy, why not pick one up today?
As well as looking after your health at home with a carbon monoxide alarm, protect the important things in your home with comprehensive home insurance.