Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide poisoning is often called the silent killer as without a carbon monoxide detector, it’s difficult to detect the poisonous gas.

In addition to our standard advice to have at least one working smoke alarm on every level of a house, we also recommend having a working carbon monoxide detector if you have a gas boiler, gas appliances or an open fire or log burner.

You can buy a carbon monoxide detector from most DIY stores and major supermarkets. We recommend avoiding unbranded alarms - you can find out more information on the United Against CO website

What should I look out for to diagnose carbon monoxide poisoning?

Think COMA and ask yourself these four questions...

  • C: Co-habitees - is anyone else in the house affected? (Including pets)
  • O: Outdoors - did your symptoms improve when out of the house?
  • M: Maintenance - are heating and cooking appliances maintained and have repairs been carried out by competent engineers/ tradespersons eg GasSafe registered where gas is involved?
  • A: Alarm - do you have a carbon monoxide alarm?

Find out more about carbon monoxide poisoning on the NHS website.

What should I do if my carbon monoxide alarm goes off?

  • Stop using all appliances, switch them off, and open doors and windows to ventilate the property
  • Evacuate the property immediately; stay calm and avoid raising your heart rate  
  • Call the Gas Emergency number on 0800 111 999 to report the incident, or the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Gas Safety Advice Line on 0800 300 363
  • Don't go back into the property; wait for advice from the emergency services
  • Seek immediate medical help; you may not realise you've been affected by the carbon monoxide and going outside into fresh air won't treat any exposure by itself

Find out more about carbon monoxide safety on the United Against CO website


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