Pip has recently become really aware of the concept of home. She talks a lot about “my blue home” (we have a blue front door) and around the idea of the home being a safe place where we live. Several times in the last couple of weeks she has hopped up to check that there are no monsters in the corridor whilst we are having supper and comes back to the table reporting that “we are alone in the house, Mummy and Daddy”.
We too try and make our home is safe, not just emotionally. I think most people know to have a smoke detector now; we also have a carbon monoxide detector – do you? We actually had one anyway in our sitting room next to our gas fire and now have a second one for our kitchen after Corgi Homeplan sent us one.
Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas and, as such, it is very difficult to detect and can easily be inhaled without realising. Trouble is, the indications of a CO leak, and the associated symptoms are quite easy to be attributed to something else. Headaches, dizziness, nausea and breathlessness are often symptoms of lots of things, although collapse and loss of consciousness are clearly serious enough to warrant medical attention.
Trouble is, eing exposed to high concentration levels can be fatal or cause several other long-term health problems. According to NHS statistics, every year in the UK, over 200 people go to hospital with suspected carbon monoxide poisoning, and around 40 people die.
Other signs to look out for include:
- Making sure that the flame on your cooker is crisp and blue. Yellow or orange flames mean you need to get your cooker checked
- Dark staining around or on appliances
- Sooty marks on the walls around boilers, stoves or the cover of gas fires
- Pilot lights that frequently go out
- Increased condensation inside windows
Each of those in isolation doesn’t necessarily mean anything either, which is where the detector comes in. I think every household should have one.
The box itself is small and discreet and can be easily tucked onto a shelf. It helps as an early warning reminder but should not just be relied on in isolation. I am also told that regularly maintaining appliances can help prevent carbon monoxide issues too. We recently had an issue with our boiler where the pilot light kept going out. We had no other symptoms of carbon monoxide issues, but it was worth taking the day off work to get it fixed, for the peace of mind as much as the pleasure of knowing the shower would always be hot rather than having to hop around in a towel trying to get the boiler to light again.
If you suspect you or anyone in your house has inhaled carbon monoxide it is important that you get fresh air immediately; turn off the appliance and leave the house. If you think you are in danger ring the National Gas Emergency Helpline on 0800 11 999. You should seek medical attention as soon as possible – visit your GP or go to the hospital as soon as possible – let them know that you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning.