Carbon monoxide safety this winter

Date published: 27 January 2015

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The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) is reminding people to be aware of the dangers from carbon monoxide (CO) during the winter season.

With heating systems and solid fuel fires being used more often, homeowners must make sure their chimneys and flues are clear and that appliances, such as heaters, boilers and cookers are in safe working condition, and adequately ventilated.

Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous gas which is impossible to see, taste or smell and is often known as the ‘silent killer’. So, if you use an appliance that burns a fossil fuel - including gas, oil and coal, as well peat and wood, you are potentially at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Protect yourself

The best way to protect yourself, and others, from the dangers of CO is to make sure all fuel burning appliances are serviced at least annually by a registered engineer.

All chimneys and flues should be inspected annually and swept, if required, by a registered technician. As an additional precaution, you should also install an audible carbon monoxide alarm.

CO Symptoms

Early symptoms of CO poisoning can mimic many common ailments and may easily be confused with food poisoning, viral infections, flu or simple tiredness.

Symptoms to look out for include:

  • headache
  • nausea
  • breathlessness
  • dizziness
  • collapse
  • unconsciousness

You can download the new CO booklet at the following link:

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