We are now well into the winter season and are all turning up the thermostat and leaving the heating on longer, but how safe is your boiler and your other household appliances? Are you at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning?
What is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is sometimes referred to as the “silent killer” because it is a poisonous gas that has no smell or taste. Incorrectly installed, faulty or poorly maintained appliances are the most common source of carbon monoxide, usually central heating boilers. However other appliances such as cookers and heaters can be a source.
Carbon monoxide is produced when fuels such as coal, oil, gas or wood do not fully burn. Sometimes the gas cannot escape, particularly if flues or chimneys are blocked, causing the CO to reach dangerous levels.
What Are The Symptoms.
The most common symptom of carbon monoxide poisoning is a persistent headache. Unfortunately most people do not realise that their headache is caused by exposure to CO and put it down to other factors. Other symptoms can include:
- Stomach pain
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
Carbon monoxide poisoning can make you feel very unwell and is potentially fatal. Around 200 people per year go to hospital with suspected carbon monoxide poisoning and approximately 40 people per year die from inhalation of this toxic gas.
As the symptoms can be similar to flu or food poisoning this can lead to misdiagnosis by medical professionals and people can be returned to the source of their illness. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning however do not produce a fever and do not improve after a few days like flu or food poisoning.
How to help prevent Carbon monoxide poisoning.
As you cannot smell or taste CO it is important to install a carbon monoxide alarm or several alarms, particularly in bedrooms and other rooms near central heating boilers or other gas-burning appliances. The alarms give out a high pitched noise when the levels of CO get too high. If you have family members who live in rented (or student) accommodation, make sure they have Carbon monoxide alarms as well.
You should also make sure that your household appliances are well maintained and regularly serviced to reduce the risk of a CO leak. If you or a member of your family believe you have carbon monoxide poisoning it is essential that you seek medical help immediately.
As carbon monoxide poisoning is often caused by faulty, incorrectly installed or poorly maintained appliances you may be able to claim compensation for your illness from your landlord, letting agent or plumber. It is also possible you may have a claim against medical professionals if they negligently failed to diagnose the poisoning.
Jonathan Stittle has previously acted for the widow of a man who died from inhaling carbon monoxide due to a defective central heating boiler. Compensation was recovered from the insurers of the engineer who attempted to mend it, but left it in a very dangerous condition. If you would like some advice about whether you can make a claim, then call our expert Solicitors on 0114 218 4000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.