Households across Great Britain are being encouraged to make sure they have a fully working carbon monoxide (CO) alarm fitted in their homes to stay safe and protect against the risks of CO poisoning.
OFTEC, the UK trade body for the oil heating industry, has issued the advice at the start of this year’s CO Awareness Week (21 – 25 November), a national campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of CO poisoning which killed more than 50 people in the UK last year*.
CO is produced when carbon fuels don’t burn properly and the poisonous gas can cause severe long term health problems, and at worst, death. Anyone can be affected but younger and older people are most at risk. The symptoms to watch out for include tiredness, dizziness and headaches. Although CO poisoning is most frequently associated with faulty gas boilers, any type of heating system where combustion takes place can potentially give off the deadly odourless, colourless gas. Whilst oil boilers have a very strong CO safety record households in who use oil to heat their homes should not be complacent.
In support of CO Awareness week, OFTEC is providing the following advice:
- Purchase a CO alarm (typically around £20) for each floor of your house
- Regularly check your CO alarms are working by holding down the ‘test’ button
- Have your boiler serviced at least once a year by a technician registered with OFTEC (for oil boilers) or GasSafe (for mains gas boilers)
- If the alarm sounds, open the windows, leave the room and contact OFTEC (if you have an oil boiler) or GasSafe (if you have a gas boiler)
- If you experience any of the symptoms of CO poisoning, leave the house immediately and call 999.
Malcolm Farrow, from OFTEC, said: “People are often completely unaware they are suffering from CO poisoning, mistaking their symptoms for flu. However, the long term health consequences can be very serious and the effects deadly.
“Whilst the risk of CO poisoning is low with an oil heating system, households should still take the proper precautions. As part of CO Awareness Week, we are encouraging homeowners to purchase a CO alarm which are as important for safety as smoke alarms and really can save lives.
“We also recommend having your boiler serviced annually by an OFTEC or GasSafe registered technician who is required to check that it is operating safely as part of their service.”
*Number of deaths from accidental poisoning by carbon monoxide, ONS September 2016
It is worth noting that oil appliances do have a good record of safety as Oil Save reported back in May 2016.