By on 12/11/2014

As it is carbon awareness week it may be beneficial to be reminded of the dangers and preventative requirements. There have been many incidents involving carbon monoxide poisoning and many people including Landlords may not aware just how simple [and maybe legally necessary] it is to install detection]?

Carbon monoxide is a killer and responsible for over 600 deaths since 1995 with a further 3,772 injured.  The majority of these deaths and injuries have been in owner occupied properties which have no compulsory legislation. 127 deaths have been in tenanted properties and this figure would have been much higher without the legal requirements that Landlords have to legally follow being carried out:

Carbon Monoxide is a colourless, odorless, tasteless, toxic gas that has the molecular formula CO. The molecule consists of a carbon atom that is triple bonded to an oxygen atom. Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a colorless, odorless, toxic gas. Appliances fueled with gas, oil, kerosene, or wood may produce CO. If such appliances are not installed, maintained, and used properly, CO may accumulate to dangerous and even deadly levels in cars, homes, or poorly ventilated areas.

Carbon Monoxide is produced by the incomplete combustion of the fossil fuels - gas, oil, coal and wood used in boilers, engines, oil burners, gas fires, water heaters, solid fuel appliances and open fires. Dangerous amounts of CO can accumulate when, as a result of poor installation, poor maintenance or failure or damage to an appliance in service, the fuel is not burned properly, or when rooms are poorly ventilated and the Carbon Monoxide is unable to escape.

Having no smell, taste or colour, in today's world of improved insulation and double glazing, it has become increasingly important to have good ventilation, maintain all appliances regularly and to have absolutely reliable Detector alarms installed giving both a visual and audible warning immediately there is a build-up of CO to dangerous levels.

 NO SMELL and NO TASTE and NO COLOUR:  It is for these reasons that CO Detectors are the only way to alert you to increasingly dangerous levels of CO before tragedy strikes.

What are the effects of Carbon Monoxide? Carbon Monoxide produces the following physiological effects on people exposed to the concentrations shown:  Carbon Monoxide poisons by entering the lungs via the normal breathing mechanism and displacing oxygen from the bloodstream. Interruption of the normal supply of oxygen puts at risk the functions of the heart, brain and other vital functions of the body.

Electrical heaters and electric water heaters, toasters, etc., do not produce CO under any circumstances.

Common sources of CO include the following wood or gas fueled appliances:

  • Room heaters
  • Furnaces
  • Charcoal grills
  • Cooking ranges
  • Water heaters
  • Automobiles run in closed garages
  • Fireplaces
  • Portable generators
  • Wood burning stoves

Exposure especially affect unborn babies, infants, and people with anemia or a history of heart disease. Breathing low levels of the chemical can cause fatigue and increase chest pain in people with chronic heart disease.

 Why is CO the silent, cold weather killer?: Carbon monoxide poisoning can kill without warning, as your family sleeps. Because CO gas has no warning properties, even at toxic or life threatening levels, it is considered a silent killer. And since so many deaths occur as the result of defective or poorly operated home heating devices, CO has been termed the "silent, cold weather killer."

 Although not always experienced, the initial symptoms of CO are similar to the flu (but without the fever). But it can also mimic other ailments like gastric flu or stomache upset, the symptoms include: Dizziness, Fatigue, Headache, Nausea and irregular breathing.  It is critical to note that death from CO poisoning can result with some or all of these symptoms never being experienced by occupiers.

How can we prevent CO poisoning?: Dangerous levels of CO can be prevented by proper appliance maintenance, installation, and use. Timely inspections of potentially CO-producing equipment, and the use of CO toxic level concentration alarms, are key to avoiding a CO fatality.

 To avoid CO poisoning, follow these tips:

Installation:

  • Proper installation is critical to the safe operation of combustion appliances. All new appliances have installation instructions that should be followed exactly. Local building codes should be followed as well.
  • Appliances designed to be vented should be vented properly, according to manufacturers' instructions.
  • Adequate combustion air should be provided to ensure complete combustion.
  • All combustion appliances should be installed by professionals.

 Maintenance:

  • A qualified service technician should perform preventive maintenance on homes with central and room heating appliances (including water heaters and gas dryers) annually. The technician should look at the electrical and mechanical components of appliances, such as thermostat controls and automatic safety devices.
  • Chimneys and flues should be kept free of blockages, corrosion, and loose connections.
  • Individual appliances should be serviced regularly.
  • Kerosene and gas space heaters (vented or unvented) should be cleaned and inspected to ensure proper operation.

 Appliance Use:

  • Follow manufacturers' directions for safe operation.
  • Make sure the room where an unvented gas or kerosene space heater is used is well ventilated; doors leading to another room should be open to allow added ventilation.
  • Never use an unvented combustion heater overnight or in a room where you are sleeping.
  • Never use charcoal grills inside a home, tent, camper, or unventilated garage.
  • Don't leave vehicles running in an enclosed garage, even to "warm up" a car on a cold morning.

 Alarms: Next to prevention of the production of toxic CO gas, the best defense against this deadly killer is a CO alarm. These devices can detect toxic concentration of CO in the air, sound an alarm, and thereby save lives.

  • Carbon Monoxide Detectors do NOT function as smoke Detectors.
  • Smoke Detectors do NOT work as Carbon Monoxide Detectors.
  • Only select Detectors which are officially approved (and kite-marked where appropriate) to at least one of the major CO Alarm standards.  BS7860 (British)
  • Follow manufacturer's recommendations for placement in your home.
  • Treat all activations as real and get the activation checked out by a professional.
  • Evacuate everyone from your home immediately leaving the door open for ventilation on your way out.
  • Notify the Fire Service from a neighbor’s home.
  • Test CO Detectors at least once a month, following the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Replace CO Detectors and batteries according to the manufacturer' s instructions (every five years normally).
  • 10. Get a Carbon Monoxide Alarm sent home to you today if you need one.

 

 

For further information or a longer-version of this article  please contact us.

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