The best way to stay safe is to prevent carbon monoxide in the first place. Follow the advice below.

Appliances

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

​The use of mobile heaters which are damaged can result in the production of carbon monoxide. In particular if the plaques or bricks at the front of your heater are damaged, or the retaining cement is missing, they should be immediately replaced by a competent person. A heater should not be used in a damaged condition.

Visit the Irish LPG Association website for more details on safety checks.

Wood pellet boilers are used in some homes and businesses as an alternative to oil or gas-fired boilers.

Wood or biomass pellets, the fuel source for these units, are normally housed in a large, sealed hopper or tank attached to the boiler. Carbon monoxide can be given off by these pellets as they naturally oxidise (even without burning) and can build up to dangerous levels due to the enclosed nature of these hoppers and tanks. This can create a toxic atmosphere.

All users of wood pellet boilers should follow strict guidelines to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Get your hopper or tank and boiler installed and commissioned by a competent person. If in doubt, contact the supplier and/or manufacturer and request assistance.
  • Do not enter or place your head into the wood pellet hopper under any circumstances. The unit can contain toxic gases.
  • No-one should enter the hopper/tank unless fully trained and competent in confined space entry procedures. The hopper or tank should be fully ventilated and controls put in place to ensure safe entry, in line with the HSA Code of Practice.
  • Get the boiler cleaned and serviced by a competent person at the frequency stated in the manufacturers’ instructions.
  • Turn the unit off and seek help immediately if you have any problems with the unit (e.g. the system is not heating correctly or flue gas is flowing into boiler room).

Choose room sealed appliances.

Choose room-sealed appliances for your home. With room-sealed appliances, fresh air for the combustion process comes from outside of the building. Emissions are then discharged outside. The air in the room where the appliance is fitted is therefore not used or affected by the appliance. Room-sealed appliances (balanced flue or fanned draught types) are recommended for new and replacement boilers and water heaters, as they significantly reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Unsafe water heaters

Flueless gas water heaters are considered to be unsafe because they consume air inside a room. This causes the products of combustion - including carbon monoxide - to release directly into the room, rather than going out of a flue into the atmosphere.

Levels of carbon monoxide can build up to dangerous levels if the heater is used for extended periods and there is a lack of ventilation.

Open flue-type water heaters in bathrooms are also considered unsafe.

If you think you have an appliance like this, contact Gas Networks Ireland on 1850 79 79 79 for a free safety check.

Gas boilers that used to run on oil

Some oil boilers have been modified to work using natural gas. This was achieved by replacing the oil burner on the unit with a gas burner, with the old boiler casing and heat exchanger being retained.

Appliances where oil burners have been replaced with gas burners should be inspected by a Registered Gas Installer.

Declaration of Conformance

The domestic installation standard I.S. 813 requires natural gas installers to provide you with a Declaration of Conformance. This certificate confirms that gas installation work was carried out in line with the standard and your appliance is safe to use.

This is an important document so keep it in a safe place.

Safety alert on New World Vision gas cookers

The New World Vision 50TWLMSV (LPG) gas cooker can produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide if not operated in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. For further information on this and other New World Vision 50TWL models affected and the required safety actions visit https://newworld.co.uk.

Safety Alert on certain Beko, Flavel and Leisure gas cookers

A similar safety alert was issued for certain Beko, Flavel and Leisure cooker models. If the cooker grill is operated with the grill door closed, production of dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can quickly occur. Not operating these appliances in accordance with the user instructions can pose a serious risk to your health. For further information on arranging a free safety inspection and modification visit https://www.beko.ie/cookersafetynotice.

Chimneys

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.

Home improvements

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

​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.

Going away

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

Safety abroad

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.

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Detect carbon monoxide in your home