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Armed Forces Covenant

Be Carbon Monoxide Aware

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is potentially fatal and even low-levels of the poison can cause lasting damage to your health. You can't see it, taste it or smell it but CO can kill quickly without warning.

How is carbon monoxide produced?

Carbon based fuels, including gas, oil, wood and coal, are usually safe to use. A shortage of air can cause the fuel to not burn properly. It is when the fuel does not burn properly that excess CO is produced.

What does carbon monoxide do?

When CO enters the body it is absorbed in place of oxygen in the bloodstream and prevents the blood from bringing oxygen to the cells, tissues and organs that need it.

Starved of oxygen the cells and tissues can be damaged or die and organs can fail.

Because of the way CO effects the body you should always be aware of the following symptoms: Headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness and fatigue.

CO dangers in the home

Boilers, heaters and cooking applicances that use a carbon containing fuel (e.g. oil, gas and solid fuel) have the potential to produce carbon monoxide if they are not installed correctly, are poorly maintained or used incorrectly.

  • It is important that flues and chimneys are cleaned and that vents to the outside and are not blocked or covered.
  • Any un-flued heating or cooking appliance (which is meant to work without a flue) should not be used in small, closed-up rooms as adequate ventilation is required to ensure these appliances work correctly.
  • Keep appliances and vents clean to ensure that their is sufficient airflow.
  • It is important that appliances are maintained by an appropriately registered engineer.

You can help further control the risks by installing an audible carbon monoxide alarm which is EN50291 compliant in your home.

Keep vents clear image

Keep vents clear of obstructions so air can flow.

CO dangers outdoors

Lethal levels of CO can quickly build up in enclosed or poorly ventilated areas so:

When using disposable / portable barbecues

  • Never take a portable / disposable barbecue into an enclosed space, like a tent or caravan, for cooking or heating purposes. If cooking in an enclosed space use a gas light or stove instead.
  • Don't bring the barbecue inside the tent or caravan to cool down. It can still be active and give off carbon monoxide.

When using gaslights or stoves

  • Make sure gas lights and stoves are kept clean, especially if using them in enclosed spaces. Dirt buildup can starve the fire and cause it to produce carbon monoxide.

You can further minimise the risk by taking a fresh portable CO detector with you to the festival or campsite and place it in the tent to detect a build up of CO.

Don't use barbecues inside

Never use a portable / displosable barbecue in an enclosed space.

You can download a copy of a single sided leaflet, which can also be used as a poster, that contains the carbon monoxide outdoors safety information below.

PDF Be Carbon Monoxide Aware Leaflet
(451.63 KB)

Other CO dangers

Wherever a carbon fuel is burned there is the potential for carbon monoxide to be produced and accumulate:

  • Never run your car engine in a confined space, such as a garage.
  • Smoking also produces carbon monoxide, be careful smoking in enclosed spaces.

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