Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a by-product of burning solid fuel: it is invisible, and odourless, and it can kill.

Although it normally passes harmlessly out of our chimney when we burn solid fuel in a stove or open fireplace, if a chimney is blocked or becomes faulty, then Carbon Monoxide can enter our home and become a real problem.

Faulty central heating systems and gas appliances such as electrical fires and ovens can also leak CO into our home, so what can be done to prevent leaks and help keep ourselves safe?


Because we can’t see, taste or smell CO, how do we know when a leak has happened? Carbon Monoxide is a killer, so it is important to be able to identify the warning symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning quickly. The 6 signs of potential poisoning you should look out for are:

  1. Headaches
  2. Dizziness
  3. Nausea
  4. Breathlessness
  5. Collapse
  6. Loss of consciousness

If you suspect that there has been a carbon monoxide leak, and someone is suffering from the affects, what are the steps that should be taken?

  • Firstly, you should get fresh air immediately. Open all doors and windows, turn off all gas appliances and leave the house.
  • Once you are out of the house it is important you seek medical attention immediately. CO poisoning can be detected by a blood or breath test which can be carried out by a trained health professional.
  • Before you return to your home you will need to have it thoroughly checked by a professional engineer to make sure the leak has been fixed and the home is safe to return to.

Protecting against Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

How do you stop something you can’t see, hear or smell? To prevent Carbon monoxide poisoning from happening it is important that you follow these steps:

  • Have your chimney swept regularly
  • Have a ventilation system fitted above your fire
  • Use registered installers for any solid fuel appliance
  • Fit an audible Carbon Monoxide detector in your property
  • Inspect your central heating systems and gas appliances yearly for any leakages or damage.
  • Use smokeless coals and never leave appliances burning if you leave the home or overnight.