Everything you need to know about Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is known as the silent killer. It’s a colourless, odourless, poisonous gas that can be really difficult to detect if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

It is produced by an incomplete combustion of Liquid Petroleum Gas and gas, which can happen as a result of a lack of air or a faulty heating appliance. It’s an extremely dangerous substance and therefore something you need to be clued up on.

How does Carbon Monoxide affect the body?

When a person inhales Carbon Monoxide it will mix with the blood and prevent it from being able to absorb Oxygen. Therefore if a person continues to be exposed to Carbon Monoxide, it can have serious health implications such as paralysis and brain damage. Unfortunately, in some cases exposure to Carbon Monoxide can also cause death.

The fact it doesn’t smell, have any taste or any colour is why it is often referred to as the silent killer.

Common symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning include headaches,
dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapsing and loss of consciousness. If you find that you get these symptoms when you are at home and other people in your household (or even your pets) are also experiencing the same symptoms, it is important to take action.

It is advised that you turn off your gas appliances and leave the house immediately. You should also seek medical advice, as a doctor will be able to test your blood or breath for Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

If you are found to have Carbon Monoxide poisoning you will be treated with Oxygen therapy in hospital. This involves breathing in pure Oxygen through a tight-fitting mask so your body can replace carboxyhaemoglobin.

Recovery time from Carbon Monoxide poisoning can vary depending on how long you were exposed to it for. Around 10 to 15% of people who experience severe Carbon Monoxide poisoning will go on to have long-term complications such as brain damage and heart problems.

How to prevent Carbon Monoxide leaks

Carbon Monoxide leaks are often caused by insufficient venting of appliances, or blocked flues, which are connected to the appliance. These pose significant risks and need to be checked over by a qualified heating plumber.

One of the best ways to prevent Carbon Monoxide leaks is to have your boiler and heating appliances inspected and maintained on a regular basis. A Gas Safe engineer should carry out these inspections.

In the event of a Carbon Monoxide leak, it’s advised that you call the Gas Emergency Helpline.

Detecting Carbon Monoxide

Today many people have Carbon Monoxide alarms in their home. These alarms sound if Carbon Monoxide is present in the air, so those in the household can take action immediately.

If you don’t already have one, we highly recommend investing in a Carbon Monoxide alarm for your home. They look very similar to smoke alarms, are affordable to buy and very easy to fit. Your detector is likely to need changing every five years or so.

Before buying a Carbon Monoxide alarm, please check that it is marked
EN 50291 and has a British Standards’Kite mark (or the European equivalent) stamped on it.These alarms are designed to sound an alarm when Carbon Monoxide is present in the air. They are much more effective than other Carbon Monoxide alarms that simply change colour, as they will alert to the poisonous gas you even if you are sleeping.


Carbon Monoxide is feared for a very good reason, so it’s important to be vigilant in keeping yourself and those living in your household safe. Have your appliances checked by Gas Safe engineers (like the team here at Priory Gas Heating) on a regular basis and you will stand a good chance of preventing Carbon Monoxide leaks in your home.