As winter approaches heating systems and appliances are being fired up all over the country. It’s time to consider whether you are taking all the necessary precautions against carbon monoxide poisoning.
Around 50 people a year die from the effects of carbon monoxide and many more are hospitalised. By taking the right precautions most of these could be avoided.
Firstly, we would urge people to have their gas boilers and any other fuel burning appliances regularly serviced and chimneys swept. Then get a carbon monoxide alarm installed. This is important even if you have carried out all the necessary maintenance. There even have been incidences where poisonings have occurred when the deadly gas has seeped in from an adjoining property.
As we do our best to keep our energy bills down homes have much better insulation and draught protection. Remember though that while this keeps the cold out it will also keep any deadly fumes in.
Fitting a CO alarm will give you the peace of mind that you and your family will be safe this winter. Just ensure that you follow the instructions, test it in line with the instructions and make sure you replace the battery when required.
The aim of Chimney Fire Safety Week is to raise awareness of the importance of ensuring that chimneys are swept regularly and are clean and safe for use – fuel quality is also an important factor in the prevention of chimney fires.
The Fire Kills campaign has worked closely with HETAS, the NationaL Association of Chimney Sweeps and the Institute of Chimney Sweeps to drum up interest in this awareness week.
The key messages are:
• Ensure your chimney is swept regularly
• Chimneys should be swept according to the type of fuel used:
- Smokeless fuels – at least once a year
- Bitumous coal – at least twice a year
- Wood – quarterly when in use
- Oil – once a year
- Gas – once a year (Any work on gas appliances requires a Gas Safe registered installer/engineer)
• Keep chimneys and flues clean and well maintained
• Be careful when using open fires to keep warm. Make sure you always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers
• Ensure the fire is extinguished before going to bed or leaving the house
• Ensure good quality fuel is used
• Never interrupt the air supply by blocking air vents or air bricks
• Fit a smoke alarm
• Fit a carbon monoxide alarm – if there is a blockage anywhere in the chimney then the carbon monoxide generated by burning fuel will not escape properly. This gas is deadly.
For further information on chimney safety, you can visit the association websites – www.nacs.org.uk / www.instituteofchimneysweeps.com.