Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide – What is it?

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless gas which causes the deaths of approximately 40 people each year with hundreds more made seriously ill.

All carbon containing fuels such as gas (mains and bottled), coal, coke, oil, petrol, diesel, biofuel and wood can produce CO if there is not enough oxygen from the air to burn fully. Also if something else disrupts the burning process, such as a blocked (or poorly fitted) flue or chimney, this can stop CO gas escaping allowing it to build up to dangerous levels.

Around two thirds of reported cases of carbon monoxide poisoning are caused by central heating appliances. But it is important to understand that it is not just central heating boilers that cause CO: cookers, stoves, fires, water heaters, room heaters and BBQs can all cause CO poisoning.

Don't miss your annual gas safety check! 
We make these checks for you to make sure you are safe. It’s a legal requirement, so you must keep your appointment.

What are we doing to reduce risks to our tenants and customers?

We will fit CO alarms in all rooms that hold a Cornwall Housing owned appliance. Once fitted these alarms will be subject to annual checks as part of the service visit.

CO alarms are fitted as a second line of defence they are not a substitute for regular servicing of appliances.

As part of your tenancy agreement you must allow Cornwall Housing Engineers access to service any gas, oil, solid fuel, or renewable technology appliances owned by Cornwall Housing. During the visit our registered engineers will also undertake safety checks on gas, oil or solid fuel appliances that are not owned by Cornwall Housing.

What can you do to reduce your own risk?

  • make sure that rooms are well ventilated and do not block air vents
  • check the CO alarm by pressing the test button once a month
  • familiarise yourself with the function of the alarm in your property and know the difference between a fault and a Co release
  • seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed or nauseous
  • burn only the correct fuel for your appliance
  • use ovens or gas cookers to heat your home
  • use a generator, BBQ, camp stove or other fuel burning device inside your home, garage or in a confined area like a tent
  • leave petrol fuelled lawnmowers or cars running inside a garage
  • sleep in a room that has an unflued gas fire or paraffin heater
  • burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t well vented

What do I do if the CO alarm sounds?   

  • Open all doors and windows to ventilate the area and allow any carbon monoxide to disperse
  • Where possible turn off all fuel burning appliances
  • Leave the property and make sure everyone is out in the fresh air
  • If you have mains gas call the Gas Emergency Services number 0800 111 999
  • Do not re-enter the premises until the alarm has stopped
  • If anyone is suffering from the effects of CO poisoning such as headaches, feeling dizzy, nauseous or feeling sick seek urgent medical attention – call 999
  • Do not use the fuel burning appliances until they have been checked for use by a competent, qualified engineer.
  • Contact the Mechanical and Electrical team at Cornwall Housing on 0300 1234 161

If the alarm is bleeping as opposed to a constant sounding it is most likely a fault so call Cornwall Housing on 0300 1234 161

This information is also as a printable PDF leaflet: Carbon Monoxide (CO) Information and Advice.