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Placement of a carbon monoxide detector

This guide is intended to provide general guidance only. It is not intended to give you advice on your personal financial circumstances. You should seek independent professional advice if you’re unsure about anything mentioned in this guide or what choices to make.

Understanding the appropriate placement of a carbon monoxide detector is extremely important. Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous gas and is produced by the incomplete burning of fuels including gas, oil, wood and coal. This can occur when appliances such as boilers, cookers and ovens are incorrectly fitted, not properly maintained or if their vents become blocked. It’s not just gas-burning products that pose a carbon monoxide risk. Any appliance that burns fuel can produce carbon monoxide, including heaters, oil-fired boilers and fires.

Unfortunately, carbon monoxide is colourless, tasteless and odourless, making it very difficult to spot a leak. That’s why it’s absolutely crucial that you have a working carbon monoxide detector in your home. According to the Gas Safe Register, though, there are some tell-tale signs you should keep an eye out for. These include:

  • Yellow or orange gas cooker flames. Gas flames should always be bright blue.
  • Soot or yellow/brown staining around the appliance.
  • Boiler pilot lights flickering inconsistently, or frequently blowing out.
  • Higher than usual levels of condensation inside windows.

Never rely on these warning signs, though. To protect yourself fully you need a carbon monoxide detector.

Do I need a carbon monoxide detector?

Yes! An estimated 30-50 people in the UK die each year as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning, while many more are injured or become seriously ill. A detector helps to protect your family against this risk.

Where can I buy a carbon monoxide detector?

You can buy carbon monoxide detectors from most DIY stores – go for an audible one so you’re alerted to a leak straight away. They’ll cost between £15 and £35. Make sure your detector bears the British Standard EN 50291 mark, and has a British or European Kitemark.

Is a carbon monoxide detector the same as a smoke detector?

NO! A carbon monoxide detector is not a replacement for a standard smoke alarm – you’ll need one of each.

Placement of a carbon monoxide detector

  • Put a detector in every room that contains a fuel-burning appliance, or in a central location, such as a hallway or a landing.
  • Make sure the alarm is situated at least one metre away from fuel-burning appliances, such as fires, boilers and cookers.
  • Make sure the alarm is at head height (breathing level), but it doesn’t have to be fixed on a wall. You could place it on a table, shelf or a bookcase, for example, but don’t put it on the ceiling.
  • Don’t put it in cupboards, behind furniture or by outside doors and ventilation equipment (such as extractor fans), as this will prevent it from working effectively.
  • Keep the alarm away from areas of high condensation, such as bathrooms or next to cooker hobs.
  • Test the alarm regularly, as you would with a regular smoke alarm, and replace the batteries as soon as the low battery signal beeps.
  • Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on placing, testing and servicing the alarm, and pay attention to any notes regarding its battery life and when batteries should be replaced.

Learn the warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide symptoms are often similar to flu, food poisoning, infections and even simple tiredness. Be alert to these signs, and learn more about protecting yourself at the Be Alarmed website, which contains loads of information about avoiding the dangers of carbon monoxide.

What to do if you experience symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

  • Get fresh air immediately, open the doors and windows, turn off the gas/fuel appliances and leave the house.
  • Immediately visit your doctor or hospital, they can carry out a blood or breath test.
  • If you suspect immediate danger call the National Gas Emergency Number: 0800 111 999
  • Get your appliances checked and fixed by a Gas Safe registered engineer

How to be gas safe

  • Take a few simple measures to make sure you’re not affected by carbon monoxide:
  • Read customer and safety reviews of appliances before buying a new one.
  • Make sure any engineer installing new appliances is registered with the Gas Safety Register.
  • Have gas appliances serviced every year to make sure they run as they should. If you rent, your landlord should make sure this happens.
  • Your gas supplier may provide a free safety check if you meet certain criteria, such as being disabled, chronically sick or of pensionable age.
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