Halton Borough Council is supporting Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week 2016, which takes place from Monday 21 to Sunday 27 November.

Carbon Monoxide has no smell, taste or colour – that is why it is sometimes called the ‘Silent Killer’. A highly poisonous gas, carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete burning of carbon based fuels. The gas can be produced in any fuel-burning appliance that is not properly fitted or maintained. This can include cookers, heaters, gas tumble dryers, hot water heaters and fireplaces.

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can be fatal or cause permanent damage to your health. It can kill quickly and without warning if gas appliances and flues have not been properly installed, maintained or are poorly ventilated.

Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week aims to reduce the number of poisoning incidents, which cause around 40 deaths and 200 hospitalisations in England & Wales each year, as well as around 4,000 attendances to A&E departments.

It also aims to help drive up the number of homes which have correctly installed CO alarms – currently, only one in two homes have these potentially life-saving alarms installed.

Danger signs include yellow or orange pilot light flames where there should be blue ones and sooty stains on or near appliances. Other signs to look out for are prolonged flu like symptoms suffered by all household members; excessive condensation in the room and slow burning coal or wood fires.

A checklist to reduce the risks is:

  • Have your gas appliances serviced annually by a gas engineer who is registered with Gas Safe Register
  • Use professionals to service any other fossil-fuel burning appliances, such as oil or coal burning stoves annually
  • Keep rooms well ventilated when using a heating or cooking appliance fuelled by gas, oil or solid fuels such as coal or wood, and use the appliance correctly.
  • Ensure flues are checked to make sure they’re not blocked.
  • Have your chimney swept at least once a year
  • Every home should have a British Standards Kite-marked audible CO alarm and this should be maintained and replaced according to the instructions. However, installation of an alarm should not replace regular inspections and servicing of appliances and boilers by a registered engineer.
  • Anyone can be poisoned by carbon monoxide.  However, children, older people, people with anaemia and those with heart or lung diseases are at particular risk. Pregnant women risk damage to their unborn child from the gas.

What to do if you think you have been poisoned

If you believe you have been poisoned you should preferably seek medical attention at A&E. Inform medical staff you suspect you have been poisoned by CO and give all the information that you possibly can that makes you think this.

You should request an immediate blood test – you may have been poisoned but a delayed analysis could show a false negative.


  • Switch on or re-light any of your appliances until you have had them checked by the relevant trades people and you are assured they are safe.
  • Allow the removal of, or major works to any appliance found faulty without first taking advice.For more information visit http://covictim.org/