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What to do when your carbon monoxide detector goes off

What to do when your carbon monoxide detector goes off
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Is a carbon monoxide leak an emergency?

High levels of carbon monoxide are fatal to humans and pets. If your carbon monoxide detector is sounding, go outside your home and call the emergency services.

Carbon monoxide can come from any appliance that burns a fossil fuel, whether boiler or solid fuel stove. It is called the silent killer because exposure to it can be fatal and it has no smell and no colour.

Think you have high levels of carbon monoxide in your home?

If your carbon monoxide alarm is sounding, take it seriously. The presence of carbon monoxide in your home is an emergency. Evacuate all people and pets from your home. Open doors and windows to ventilate as you leave.

Once safely outside, call the emergency services using 999 and let them know your carbon monoxide detector is going off. There may also be an emergency number on your carbon monoxide detector that you can call.

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (sometimes called CO) is an odourless, colourless gas that can be deadly to humans and pets.

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are easy to miss as they can be confused with common illnesses or even a hangover. Watch out for:

  • headaches
  • tiredness
  • dizziness
  • nausea/vomiting
  • confusion and clumsiness
  • persistent chest or stomach pains
  • trembling
  • blurred vision or hallucinations

If these symptoms are relieved when you leave the house, definitely get yourself checked by a medical professional, and get your appliances serviced, too.

Can carbon monoxide explode?

Domestic carbon monoxide leaks are unlikely to cause an explosion. Carbon monoxide as a gas is explosive, but only under very specific circumstances. But you should still take the presence of carbon monoxide in your home very seriously.

Is carbon monoxide dangerous for plants?

Carbon monoxide in high concentrations is not good for plants, but it is not fatal to them. It is fatal to humans and pets, though, so if your carbon monoxide alarm goes off, it’s safer to leave your plants and other possessions and focus on evacuating people and animals.

How can I prevent carbon monoxide leaks?

It’s important to get gas appliances serviced regularly to ensure they are free from faults that could lead to emissions of carbon monoxide. Keep on top of your chimney sweeping schedule, as your sweep will check that your chimney and stove are not a risk for carbon monoxide.

Check your carbon monoxide detector at the same time as you check your smoke alarm – once a week ideally.

Clutter can make it hard to keep an eye on appliances and may block ventilation. If you need to take the pressure off your space for safety’s sake, consider getting rid of anything you aren’t using, or even put some of your less used domestic goods into storage until you need them. Self-storage could be cheaper than you think – see our post for ways to work out how much it will cost to store your domestic goods.

Protect yourself from carbon monoxide when travelling

Carbon monoxide detectors are small and battery powered, so you can take them with you on holiday. If you are caravaning, camping or boating and using fossil fuel heating, a CO detector could save your life.

Where can I learn more about carbon monoxide in the home?

The Katie Hains Memorial Trust has more information about protecting yourself and your family from carbon monoxide in the home.


Question and Answer


What type of storage facilities are acceptable ?

We can insure goods stored in any recognised self storage facility. We cannot accept goods insured in private facilities such as garages or lock ups or goods stored in wooden boxes or wooden lift vans provided by the self-storage operator or remover.