This week marks the second annual Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week, an initiative aimed at increasing public knowledge of the dangers posed by this toxic gas.
But what is Carbon Monoxide and why is it relevant to you?
Carbon Monoxide or CO is a colourless, odourless, poisonous gas that can occur when any fossil fuel is burned. Usually when fossil fuels are burned they produce Carbon Dioxide but if there is not enough oxygen present during combustion Carbon Monoxide can occur.
Carbon Monoxide is often referred to as the “silent killer” as it has no taste, smell or colour and when inhaled into the body it combines with the blood, preventing it from absorbing oxygen. Exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide can cause ill-health and at high levels it can rapidly result in serious illness and even death.
All fuel-burning appliances such as gas and oil boilers, gas cookers and mobile gas heaters can produce Carbon Monoxide if they are not operating properly. Barbecues, open fires, solid fuel and wood-burning stoves also pose a threat where ventilation is restricted or chimneys are blocked. Each year on average six people die in Ireland from accidental Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
There are some simple actions that you can take to protect your family. All fuel burning appliances should be installed and serviced annually by a registered gas installer, registered oil technician or qualified service agent for your fuel type. Chimneys, flues and vents should be kept clear and you should ensure that rooms in your home containing heating or cooking appliances are properly ventilated.
Regular servicing of fuel-burning appliances is the main way to prevent the threat of Carbon Monoxide but for added protection you should also install an audible Carbon Monoxide alarm. When purchasing make sure it complies with the European Standard EN 50291, carries a CE mark and an independent certification mark such as the Kitemark and has an end-of-life indicator.
For more information on Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week please visit www.carbonmonoxide.ie .