How To Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Find out how to protect your friends, family and yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning.
The best way to stay safe is to prevent carbon monoxide in the first place. Follow the advice below.
Keep your fuel-burning appliances safe:
- Make sure all your fuel-burning appliances are installed by a qualified installer.
- Get your boiler and any other fuel-burning appliances serviced once a year.
- Always use a qualified service agent for your fuel type.
- Get your chimney swept once a year.
- Keep your flues and chimneys clear at all times.
- Never block room ventilators.
- Make sure any building work does not interfere with your existing ventilation or flue arrangements.
- Use appliances correctly and for their intended purpose.
- Don't use appliances you suspect may be faulty.
- If you store wood or biomass pellets, make sure your store is well ventilated.
What else do you need to know about appliances?
- Get all fuel burning appliances serviced annually
- If you are not sure it is working safely, get it inspected by a qualified service agent
- Always buy appliances from a reputable outlet
- All appliances should carry the CE mark
- Read the instruction manuals carefully
- If you're moving house, leave the instruction manual for any appliance you're not taking with you
Get your chimneys swept regularly as they can get blocked over time. Nesting birds can also cause a blockage and prevent the products of combustion from the fire from leaving the building.
Consider fitting a Crow Guard on chimneys for solid fuel fires and all fossil fuel appliances connected to an open chimney in order to protect against the blocking of the chimney by nesting birds.
Chimneys serving gas fires
It is recommended that Crow Guards are fitted on all chimneys attached to gas fires that were installed before 1996. These older fire types may not have the additional safety features which turn off the gas fire if the flue has been blocked.
Making changes to your home (e.g. adding double-glazed windows, building an extension or conservatory or removing an internal wall), may affect the safety or efficiency of your heating installation. If you are embarking on major alterations, or if you are going to change the use of a living room into a bedroom, then you may require the advice of a professional. Contact your fuel supplier for a list of qualified personnel.
Barbecues have been linked to campsite deaths caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. If you're planning on using a barbecue, whether it's a disposable one, gas or charcoal make sure you keep yourself safe and don't put yourself at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Many people don’t realise that barbecues can emit a lot of carbon monoxide both while they’re burning and after they appear to have gone out. So always use a barbecue in a well-ventilated place and never bring it under a cover or awning, or inside a tent.
Follow this advice for barbecue safety:
- Never take a smoldering or lit barbecue into a tent, caravan or cabin. Even if you have finished cooking your barbecue should remain outside as it will still give off fumes for several hours after use.
- Never use a barbecue inside to keep you warm.
- Do not leave a lit barbecue unattended or while sleeping.
- Only use appliances in line with the instructions.
- Place your cooking area well away from your tent. Always ensure there is an adequate supply of fresh air where the barbecue is being used.
Even when you're away from home, remember: anything that burns fuel - kerosene heaters, engines, stoves, generators, barbecues etc. - can emit carbon monoxide.
If you own a holiday home, caravan, mobile home or boat:
- ensure appliances are installed, maintained and used correctly
- make sure there is adequate ventilation
- keep all vents and exhausts clear
- install an audible carbon monoxide alarm
If you're going on holiday or leaving premises unattended, remember to turn your fuel appliances off.
In very cold weather, you can leave your central heating boiler at a low setting. This will stop your water pipes from freezing.
Safety standards abroad can vary considerably. Standards in some parts of the world, even in parts of Europe, are not as high as they are in Ireland. If you're going abroad, you could consider taking a carbon monoxide alarm with you. Ensure that the alarm can be deactivated before travelling so that it doesn't go off in your luggage. Make sure you know how to reactivate it when you get tot your destination and push the test button to make sure it is working then place the alarm on a bedside table or similar location to protect you.