We spotted this article on CO poisoning by Honeywell in PHAM News and felt it is well worth a read:
“Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is still responsible for more than 50 deaths every year in the UK, yet only around one-third of UK households have a working CO alarm. Honeywell have highlighted five points that every installer should be telling their customers:
1 The silent killer
Carbon monoxide is odourless, colourless and tasteless. Unlike a fire, which you can see and smell, a CO leak provides absolutely no warning. What’s more, depending on the scale of the leak, the homeowner could be suffering from low-level symptoms for months, completely unaware of the cause.
As an installer, communicating the most common symptoms could eventually save a customer’s life. A low level leak could result in headaches, nausea, dizziness, tiredness and shortness of breath. CO poisoning often manifests in such a way that it can be confused with flu or food poisoning, however, it does not cause a fever – an important differentiating factor.
2. A colour change spot detector isn’t enough
You may find that certain homeowners already believe that their CO protection is complete, relying upon a colour change spot detector that works in a similar way to litmus paper by changing colour in the presence of CO.
These detectors are inadequate for a number of reasons. Firstly, no matter how prominently the detector is located, it is unlikely that the homeowner will check the unit every day, so if a colour change is triggered, there is every chance the homeowner will fail to notice. Secondly, if there is a major CO leak during the night, then the detector is effectively useless.
In addition, because the sensors degrade over time, these spot detectors need to be regularly replaced, typically every three to six months, or they become ineffective.
3. Legal compliance does not equal best practice
When completing an installation for a landlord, you may find that whilst their property complies with legal CO requirements, it’s still unsafe. Many incidents of CO poisoning are the result of badly maintained or faulty gas appliances such as boilers or cookers, which are not specifically addressed by the legislation.
In light of this, it’s best to recommend a CO alarm in every room housing a fuel burning appliance, and for proper protection, an alarm in any bedroom above these, too.
4. Siting is crucial
Locating an alarm inappropriately can have a serious impact on its functionality, reducing its efficiency and effectiveness. Ideally, a CO alarm should generally be positioned high up on a wall, typically 30cm from the ceiling, and 1m away from boilers, fires, cookers or heaters. It can be free-standing on a shelf, as long as the recommended positioning requirements are met.
Bear in mind that the location could be different for a gas-fired appliance and a wood burning stove. The nature of a solid-fuel stove means that the doors will be opened intermittently in order to add further fuel, which means occasional bursts of CO will enter the room, potentially triggering the alarm if it is sited too close to the appliance.
5. Quality matters
It may be tempting for homeowners to find the cheapest option online, but it’s important for installers to communicate the benefit of choosing a well-established brand with BSI certification: EN50291-1 2010/EN50291-2 2010. The difference in price is negligible, and when it comes to safety it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.”
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