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What are the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning?

Carbon monoxide can be lethal and it's important you know how to stay safe and what signs to look out for.

You can't see it. You can't smell it. You can't taste it. Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, poisonous gas that is released when any fossil fuel burns. It can be omitted from everyday household appliances, like a poorly-maintained or faulty boiler or gas cooker.

Despite being colourless and odourless, there are still ways you can identify a carbon monoxide leak within your home. Some symptoms might feel similar to tiredness or a viral infection like the cold or flu. If these disappear when you leave the house, there’s a chance it could be carbon monoxide poisoning.

According to the NHS, a tension-type headache is the most common symptom of mild carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Seek medical attention if you experience:

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

Signs to look out for

Switch off your appliances and get your property checked by a Gas Safe Registered engineer immediately if:

  • The gas flame on an appliance appears ‘floppy’ and burns orange or yellow as opposed to blue
  • Your pilot light frequently blows out or has a ‘floppy’ flame
  • Soot or yellow-brown staining can be seen around an appliance
  • You see or smell smoke
  • You're experiencing excessive condensation in a room with a gas appliance

Staying safe

Follow our simple ABC checklist to keep yourself and your family #COsafe.

  • Alarm. Fit an alarm. Get an audible CO alarm which is certified to British Standard BS EN 50291 which can be purchased from your local DIY store, supermarket or energy supplier. Make sure it’s in the correct position too. Remember, alarms are important but they're not a substitute for annual gas safety checks.
  • Batteries. Test it regularly and make sure the batteries are working.
  • Check. Have an up-to-date gas check, at least annually.

Boilers, cookers, heating systems and appliances should be installed and regularly serviced by a reputable, registered engineer. Do not attempt to install or service appliances yourself.

Anyone carrying out work on installations and appliances in your home must be registered with a relevant association, such as the: