Why Is Carbon Monoxide So Dangerous?
When carbon monoxide is breathed in, it mixes with the bloodstream to stop the blood from being able to carry oxygen. As a result, cells, tissues and organs do not have enough oxygen to function, causing them to fail and die. Breathing in small amounts of carbon monoxide can make you unwell, but being highly exposed to it can be fatal. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:
-Feeling and being sick
-Shortness of breath
-Feeling tired and confused
-Loss of consciousness
These symptoms usually occur when the brain is starved of oxygen. If you show any symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, you should immediately contact emergency services and seek medical advice.
What Are The Signs of Carbon Monoxide Leaks?
There are multiple clues that could suggest you have a carbon monoxide leak. If you notice these signs, you should immediately start to evacuate the property and call the emergency services:
-Other people in the building fall ill with the same symptoms
-Pets fall ill
-Symptoms disappearing when you are away from the building
-Yellow flames instead of blue flames
-Sooty or black/yellow stains around appliances such as boilers, stoves and fires.
Oil Boilers and Carbon Monoxide
Oil boilers, like all boilers that burn fossil fuels, produce carbon monoxide. Boilers, when working properly, produce very small amounts of carbon monoxide, but this is carried out of the boiler and your home by the flue exhaust. If the flue is blocked, then carbon monoxide will be leaked into the house.
Your oil boiler cannot produce carbon monoxide if it is switched off, due to being unable to burn the fossil fuels. However, if you are concerned about a leak, you should switch all appliances off at the mains. As you will not be aware of which appliance is leaking, it is the safest option to switch every appliance off and call an oil boiler specialist to check the appliances.
What Should I Do If My Boiler Might Be Leaking?
If you start to show signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, the first thing you should do is turn off all appliances, to prevent more gas being produced. To reduce the amount of carbon monoxide gas in your home, you should open all doors and windows, and evacuate everyone from the building.
Even if your exposure to carbon monoxide was minimal, you should still contact emergency services and seek medical advice. Once all appliances have been checked and the oil boiler specialists deem the house as safe, you can then go inside the building.
How Can I Prepare Myself For A Carbon Monoxide Leak?
Carbon monoxide leaks can occur at any point, but there are multiple factors that can reduce your chances, and help you stay safe.
Homes or buildings should have a carbon monoxide alarm installed to detect high amounts of carbon monoxide. This alarm will let you know that there’s a high chance of a leak, and you should begin to turn off all appliances, open windows, and evacuate quickly. A carbon monoxide alarm should be located at head height, near oil appliances, in every room that has an oil appliance. The alarm should not be placed too near the appliances, or the alarm will detect the natural gases produced. For example, if the boiler and the oil appliances are at one side of the kitchen, the alarm should be placed at the opposite side of the room.
Just having a carbon monoxide alarm is inadequate; you also need to regularly service your boiler to identify leaks, and prevent any chances of future leaks. An oil boiler specialist will check the flume to ensure it is not blocked or damaged. It is recommended to service your boiler before the winter season, as you will need to use your appliances more in the winter to heat your home. If you have not recently serviced your boiler, take a look at our blog covering why you should annually service your boiler here.
If you have any concerns or would like to service your boiler, please contact us on 01274 317169 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.