Warning on ‘silent and invisible killer’ carbon monoxide

A warning over the ‘silent and invisible killer’ carbon monoxide produced by wood burners, boilers, gas heaters and cookers is being issued by West Sussex firefighters.

L36904H14  Carbon Monoxide Alarm  SUS-140109-160828001
L36904H14 Carbon Monoxide Alarm SUS-140109-160828001

West Sussex County Council’s Trading Standards and West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service are urging residents to check their appliances are being properly maintained as well as testing their CO alarms.

It comes after they tested ten types of CO alarms, and eight failed British Standards tests.

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Peter Aston, Trading Standards team manager, said: “Carbon Monoxide is produced when anything burns, including when your wood burner, boiler, gas heater or cooker is lit.

“According to HSE [Health and Safety Executive] statistics around seven people die each year in England and Wales from CO poisoning caused by gas appliances and flues that have not been properly installed, maintained or that are poorly ventilated.”

CO alarms are sold to alert residents to rising and deadly CO levels. But when Trading Standards sent ten types of alarm for testing to the British Standard, eight failed in one way or another.

Mr Aston added: “All but one went off eventually, and before CO levels became toxic. But the Standard requires more than this level of performance. Enquiries are continuing concerning the alarm that failed to go off as a second sample of the brand passed.

“We are particularly concerned with the products we bought cheaply online and the inconsistency of their performance and would recommend that residents purchase alarms from reputable sources.”

Adrian Carter, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service deputy intervention and prevention manager, added: “Carbon monoxide is colourless and odourless so is difficult to detect, but it is one of the most toxic substances that you will come into contact with. Even a small amount in your living area can cause major problems over time.

“We recommend installing a carbon monoxide detector that is compliant with British Standard BS 7860, but remember the detectors are only warning devices.

“There is no substitute for making sure appliances such as boilers, heaters and cookers are given a regular check by a registered Gas Safe engineer.”

If you have any consumer issues you want to report to trading standards call Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506 or using the online reporting form at www.westsussex.gov.uk/tsreport

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