How to detect carbon monoxide symptoms, carbon monoxide alarm

Carbon monoxide poisoning: symptoms, signs & protection

Carbon monoxide (CO) is extremely dangerous and infamous for being invisible to the naked eye, tasteless and scent-free. Responsible for around 20 deaths in the UK each year, it’s important to ensure your home is Gas Safe compliant to avoid gas leaks and exposure to carbon monoxide.


What is carbon monoxide?


Formed naturally when a compound containing carbon burns incompletely, carbon monoxide is created due to a lack of oxygen.

Carbon monoxide can occasionally be found in homes with poorly fitted gas appliances or those that are badly repaired or poorly maintained. Carbon monoxide can often occur if flues, chimneys or vents are blocked.


What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?


Similar to the effects of a hangover or flu, it’s vital to be aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

There are six main symptoms:


  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Breathlessness
  • Nausea
  • Collapse
  • Loss of consciousness


While these symptoms may seem ordinary and familiar, if they occur only within your home, and you feel better outside, or you see similar effects in the people and animals you live with, you should visit your GP as soon as possible to rule out carbon monoxide poisoning.


If you suspect a gas leak call the National Gas Emergency Service number on 0800 111999 immediately.


How can you protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning?


You can ensure your home is Gas Safe by following these five simple rules:


  • Always use a Gas Safe registered engineer
  • Have your boiler and gas appliances serviced annually
  • Ensure your appliances are fully ventilated
  • Check that the flame in your boiler is a strong, clear blue
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm that meets British or European Standards


Carbon Monoxide Detectors


It is important for carbon monoxide (CO) detectors to be placed in a safe and suitable location. Homeowners installing a single carbon monoxide detector are advised by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to place the device near their sleeping area, where it could alert them and cause them to wake in the event that a CO detection occurs. For added protection against carbon monoxide poisoning, it is also recommended for detectors to be placed on every level and in every bedroom within a household, as this potentially enables any sign of carbon monoxide to be picked up sooner(CPSC).

Unlike smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors generally do not need to be placed near ceiling level. They’re usually best placed at knee level, as instead of rising as smoke does, carbon monoxide mixes with the air. If you’re a homeowner, it is recommended that you refrain from installing carbon monoxide detectors directly above or beside fuel-burning appliances, as these appliances may emit a degree of carbon monoxide upon start-up; this could cause an unnecessary alert. It is also generally advised against CO detectors being placed within fifteen feet of heating or cooking appliances, as well as near significantly humid areas such as bathrooms (CPSC).


Information and other materials on this website are not intended to constitute professional advice and should not be relied upon. Please see our Terms of Use for further details.

Related articles

Gas safety article

5 Gas Safety Tips

To ensure your gas appliances run smoothly and you don’t expose yourself to carbon monoxide poisoning, follow these five essential gas safety tips.  ...
Carbon monoxide alarm %281%29

Carbon monoxide poisoning

A silent killer responsible for almost 50 deaths in 2013, knowing the symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is an essential part of gas safety...
Tips on boiler maintenance

Boiler maintenance, safety, service & leaks

To guarantee your boiler's efficiency and longevity there are several things you can do to help ensure you have hot water and heating year round.  ...