A fireplace that doesn’t function properly is a serious safety risk. Ideally we want smoke going out and heat coming in. It is essential that the fireplace and the chimney are regularly maintained and cleaned. The following pages offer some information and advice on associated hazards.
What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, poisonous gas produced by incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels, including gas, oil, wood and coal.
Although carbon-based fuels are safe to use, excess CO is produced when the fuel does not burn properly.
When CO enters the body, it prevents the blood from delivering oxygen to cells, tissues, and organs.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
You can’t see it, taste it or smell it but CO can kill quickly without warning. Every year around 15 people in the uk die from CO poisoning caused by gas appliances and flues that have not been properly installed, maintained or that are poorly ventilated. Levels that do not kill can cause serious harm to health if inhaled over a long period. In extreme cases paralysis and brain damage can be caused as a result of prolonged exposure to CO.
Early signs of CO poisoning mimic flu like symptoms and include:
• headaches or dizziness
• loss of consciousness
• pains in the chest or stomach
• erratic behaviour
• visual problems
To ensure your safety
- Always employ a trained and registered sweep. A competent chimney sweep will make extra checks of your appliance and flue system as part of the standard service.
- Your fire should have sufficient ventilation as required by building regulations. It is vital that these vents are not blocked. A trained sweep will check the ventilation, advise you and will record the results for you on your sweeping certificate.
- Fit Carbon Monoxide alarms in any room in which there is an appliance. A good chimney sweep will be able offer advice on this.