In England and Wales it is estimated that there are 50 deaths a year from carbon monoxide poisoning and in the UK 4000 people are admitted into A&E every year with suspected carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous, odourless and colourless gas and its presence cannot be detected by our senses. When carbon monoxide gas is breathed in it gets into the blood stream and behaves like oxygen, attaching itself to red blood cells which can then no longer carry oxygen. This leads to oxygen starvation and causes the cells and tissues to die.
Carbon monoxide is produced from the combustion of smouldering and burning carbon materials but can also be produced from incorrectly installed or ageing gas boilers. It is recommended that carbon monoxide alarms are located in any room containing fuel-burning appliances.
Carbon monoxide alarms complying with EN 50291 contain electrochemical cells that are designed to detect the presence of carbon monoxide gas. They ignore transient levels of carbon monoxide gas produced in low concentrations from sources such as smouldering incense or cigarettes but when the concentrations and duration of exposures reach hazardous levels the carbon monoxide alarm will produce an audible warning signal.
As well as containing useful information, such as where to buy carbon monoxide alarms, Project SHOUT has two videos- one detailing a fatality resulting from carbon monoxide poisoning and one demonstrating how the presence of a carbon monoxide alarm saved lives when a newly installed boiler produced dangerous concentrations of carbon monoxide gas.
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