Carbon Monoxide - Know The Signs


the number of lives that CO poisoning claims every year in the UK


the number of people treated in hospital as a result of CO poisoning

What is CO?

CO is a poisonous, colourless and odourless gas that is produced when carbon fuels are burnt.

How is CO produced?

CO can be produced when a gas appliance has been incorrectly fitted, badly repaired or poorly maintained. It also occurs if flues, chimneys, or vents are blocked.

What does it do to my body?

When you breathe in CO (even small amounts) it gets into your blood stream and prevents your red blood cells from carrying oxygen which can cause your body tissue and cells to die. If inhaled over a long period of time can cause serious harm to health including brain damage, paralysis or even result in death.

Spotting the signs

  • Lazy yellow or orange gas flames mean you need to get your cooker checked
  • Dark staining around or on appliances
  • Pilot lights that frequently blow out
  • Increased condensation visible on windows

the symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Breathlessness
  • Collapse
  • Loss of Consciousness



the approximate price you can pick up an audio CO alarm from your local DIY store or supermarket. Alternatively contact your energy supplier.

Have an annual gas safety check and get your appliances serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

The Gas Safe Register is the official list of gas engineers who are qualified to work safely and legally on gas appliances.

0800 408 5500

the number to call to check your engineers ID and that he or she is on the Gas Safe Register.Visit for more information.

What to do if you suspect CO poisoning

Turn off gas appliances immediately, open doors and windows and leave the property.

See your doctor immediately or go to hospital and let them know that you suspect CO poisoning. They can do a blood or breath test to check.

Call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999A qualified engineer will arrive within one hour if a gas escape is suspected inside a property, or two hours outside a property. They will check for gas and make the property safe.

Get a Gas Safe registered engineer to inspect your gas appliances and flues to see if there is a fault before they carry out the appropriate repairs.

CO doesn't just pose a risk in the home. There are an increasing number of CO related incidents that occur in the great outdoors too.

On the water

Larger boats, such as houseboats, sometimes have generators that vent toward the rear of the boat. This venting poses a danger of CO poisoning to people on the rear swim deck or water platform. It's important to make sure that any gasoline-powered engines on boats, including onboard generators are kept in good condition and checked regularly.

Camping & barbecues

CO is produced when charcoal, gas or petrol burns incompletely. Barbecues can produce CO even when they are working well and even when the flames have gone out smouldering coals can still kill.

Although you may be tempted to put your barbecue in your tent to keep you warm, DON'T!

It might not be the first thing that you think of but if you are going on a boat trip or camping holiday make sure you pack a CO alarm. It could be a life saver.

0800 111 999

the number to call if you smell gas or suspect CO poisoning.