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Carbon monoxide safety for businesses

There are around 50 deaths a year from carbon monoxide poisoning. It isn’t something that just affects domestic energy users. It can affect anyone whether they are at work, on holiday or at home.

Energy UK runs a campaign on behalf of the ‘Big Six’ energy companies made up of British Gas, EDF Energy, SSE, E.ON, npower and ScottishPower. The campaign is also run in association with the Dominic Rodgers Trust, which was set up by Stacey Rodgers whose son was killed by carbon monoxide.

Another 40 organisations support the campaign to cut deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning. In addition to around 50 deaths a year caused by carbon monoxide, over 4,000 people are treated in hospital for low level exposure to the gas.

The campaign hopes to make as many people as possible aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide and how deaths can easily be prevented.

In Scotland it’s now compulsory for a carbon monoxide alarm to be fitted whenever a new fuel burning appliance is fitted. This includes appliances such as boilers, gas cookers or gas fires.

Where does carbon monoxide come from?

All appliances that burn either wood or fossil fuels can emit carbon monoxide. It’s produced when there’s not enough ventilation or air to burn these fuels and quite often it’s produced by appliances that haven’t been fitted or maintained correctly.

If your business has equipment that runs on gas or some other form of fossil fuel then you need a carbon monoxide alarm. Employees such as site workers and security staff have been killed by carbon monoxide.

The problem is that carbon monoxide doesn’t smell, can’t be seen and doesn’t taste of anything. Many people assume that if they have a smoke alarm fitted then they are safe. But this isn’t the case. A smoke alarm won’t detect carbon monoxide.

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

The symptoms can be similar to flu including headaches, nausea, lethargy, dizziness or other flu-like symptoms that seem to get better when you are away from the area.

There are some simple signs to look out for such as:

  • Discolouration, staining or sooting around your boiler, gas fire or water heater
  • The pilot light and other gas flames should normally burn blue but if the flame turns yellow or orange then carbon monoxide may be present

Things that you can do:

  • Have your gas appliances and flues checked every year
  • Look out for discolouration, staining or sooting on or around your gas boiler, fire or water heater
  • Fit a carbon monoxide alarm

A carbon monoxide alarm is simple to fit as you can see in the Carbon Monoxide-Be Alarmed! video below. And considering it may save your life an alarm is relatively cheap. The only way to ensure you are protected from carbon monoxide if you have gas appliances or solid fuel burning appliances, is to install an alarm.

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