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Carbon Monoxide: Get ready for autumn

Make sure that your home and family is safe from carbon monoxide, that is the advice from Essex County Fire and Rescue Service.

With autumn fast approaching homes across Essex will soon be switching on central heating and lighting fires for the first time in months. Now is the best time to get your boiler checked, your chimney swept, gas appliances tested, flues inspected and carbon monoxide detectors installed to make sure you’re safe.

Odourless, colourless and deadly carbon monoxide is the potential silent killer in our homes. When it enters the body it prevents blood from carrying oxygen to cells tissues and organs. The symptoms can be hard to detect and are often confused with food poisoning or a cold.

Carbon Monoxide can be caused by gas, oil, coal or wood burning heaters and will gradually fill an unventilated room creating a deadly, yet almost completely undetectable, atmosphere.

Divisional Officer Neil Fenwick said: “Carbon monoxide is a silent killer which seeps into your home without any smell and creates symptoms which can easily be confused with a winter cold.

“Poorly maintained boilers, blocked flues and chimneys, badly ventilated rooms and old and broken cooking or heating appliances can all leak carbon monoxide filling a room with this deadly gas.

“The only certain way to be sure that your home is safe is to make sure that you have carbon monoxide detectors installed, but at this time of year it’s a good idea to make sure that you have your boiler and appliances checked by a qualified engineer, your chimney swept and fire place checked and above all fit carbon monoxide detectors in your home.

“They are the only certain way to stay safe. They will warn you of danger before poisoning begins and help you keep yourself and family safe from this deadly menace.”
There are signs that you can look out for which indicate incomplete combustion is occurring and may result in the production of CO:
•    yellow or orange rather than blue flames (except fuel effect fires or flueless appliances which display this colour flame)
•    soot or yellow/brown staining around or on appliances
•    pilot lights that frequently blow out
•    increased condensation inside windows
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, breathlessness, nausea, tiredness, visual problems and loss of consciousness.

DO Fenwick said: “Many of us will be switching heaters on for the first time in months in the next few weeks and taking the time to make sure you're safe now could make all the difference.”

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