You are particularly at risk when you are asleep because you cannot recognise the early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
This includes tiredness,
drowsiness, headache, nausea, pains in the chest and stomach pains.
These symptoms can mimic many common
ailments and may easily be confused with flu or simple tiredness
If you or your family experience the above symptoms, and you
believe carbon monoxide may be involved, you must seek urgent medical advice.
Your doctor will need to test a blood or breath sample.
Carbon monoxide quickly leaves the blood and tests may be inaccurate if taken more than
four hours after exposure has ended.
You are at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if:
your appliance was poorly installed;
your appliance is not working properly;
your appliance has not been checked for safety or maintained regularly;
there is not enough fresh air in the room;
chimney or flue gets blocked up;
you allow an engineer who is not on the Gas Safe Register to install or
maintain your appliance(s).
There is a particular risk if you sleep in a room where an appliance that is not of the
room-sealed type (eg a conventional gas fire) is left burning at night. (Flue outlets
for room-sealed appliances are commonly
located on an external wall at a low-level protected by a cage rather than at or above roof level.)
NEVER use a gas appliance if you think it is not working properly.
Signs to look out for include yellow or orange flames
(except for fuel-effect fires which display this colour flame),
soot or stains around the appliance and pilot lights which frequently blow out.
Do Not cover an appliance or block the convection air vents.
NEVER block or obstruct any fixed ventilation grilles or air bricks.
Keep Clear outside flues.
Whenever draught exclusion, ceiling or extraction fans, double glazing or conservatory extensions are fitted to a room containing a gas appliance, the appliance should subsequently be checked for safety
ALL gas consumers are advised to have appliances checked for safety at
least every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
You could be entitled to a free safety check.
If you are over 60, chronically sick,
disabled, deaf or hearing-impaired, blind or visually impaired,
you are entitled to join your supplier’s
Priority Service Register.
It is free to join and once a member you are entitled, among other things,
to a free annual gas safety check (unless you live in rented accommodation where
it is your landlord’s duty to ensure the check is done).
For more information look at the back of your gas bill.
CARBON MONOXIDE ALARMSare a useful backup precaution but must
NOT be regarded as a substitute for proper installation and maintenance of gas
equipment by a Gas Safe registered engineer. If you decide to buy a carbon monoxide alarm, ensure it meets current safety standards (BSEN 50291) and carries the Kitemark.
If in doubt ask a member of staff for advice.
Always follow the manufacturer’s siting instructions.
If you smell gas or suspect there is a gas escape or a carbon monoxide leak, you
should immediately do the following:
Open all doors and windows.
Shut off the gas supply at the meter control valve (if you know where it is). If gas continues to escape
call National Grid on the Gas Emergency Freephone Number 0800 111 999
Make sure that any investigations or repairs are carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use)
Regulations 1998 place duties on gas consumers, installers, suppliers and landlords.
These regulations link with other safety controls on combustion equipment, eg the
Building Regulations, which are standards for ventilation and flues.
For your own protection remember:
by law anyone carrying out work on gas appliances or fittings as part of their
business must be competent and registered with the Gas Safe Register.
Always check your engineer is registered by asking to see their ID card
which has a photo of the engineer,
their business registration number and
personal licence number, company name, the start and expiry
date of the card and a security hologram.
The reverse of the card details what kind of gas work the engineer is able to do.
You can also call Gas Safe Register during normal office hours on 0800 408 5500 or go to the
By law, only a competent person can carry out work on gas appliances or fittings.
Do-it-yourself work on gas appliances or fittings could be dangerous and is likely to be illegal;
by law, you must not use any gas appliance fittings you know or suspect to be unsafe.
Through Gas Safe Register, HSE has asked all registered engineers to disconnect any gas appliance
or fittings which are so dangerous as to be a threat to life if they are used.
If your engineer asks your permission to disconnect such an appliance or fitting
it will be in the interests of your own safety, and that of others, to agree.
Before you use this appliance or fitting again, have it repaired by a
Gas Safe registered engineer; by law, landlords are generally responsible
for making sure that gas fittings and flues are maintained in good order,
and gas appliances and flues are checked for safety once in a period of 12 months.
They must also keep a record of the safety checks for at least two years and issue the latest certificate to
existing tenants and any new tenants before they move in.
If you own the appliance, you are responsible for its maintenance and safety checks; by law,
with the exception of the room-sealed type,
there are restrictions on the installation of gas appliances such as fires,
boilers and heaters in sleeping accommodation.
These restrictions apply only to appliances fitted after 1 January 1996 and to
those already installed in rooms in
rented accommodation which has been converted to bedrooms after 31 October 1998.
Appliances which are not room-sealed,
eg conventional gas fires of 14 kilowatts or less, may only be fitted if they
have a device which automatically turns the gas
supply off before a dangerous level of fumes can build up.
However, for appliances above 14 kilowatts only those of a room-
sealed type is allowed in such accommodation;
by law, since 31 October 1998, it has been illegal to install in
any room instantaneous
water heaters which are not room-sealed or fitted with a safety device which automatically turns the
gas supply off before a dangerous level of poisonous fumes builds up;
By law, mains gas transporters/emergency service providers (ESPs)
must, in the event of an emergency, make the situation safe. They should establish the cause of gas escape and take action to prevent the gas from escaping within 12 hours.
In the case of actual or suspected escapes of carbon monoxide they should respond to reports from consumers and make the situation safe.
For more information on gas appliances and staying gas safe,