Raising awareness – carbon monoxide and fossil fuels

8 Raising awareness - carbon monoxide and fossil fuels

Launching CO Awareness month in Northern Ireland at the beginning of November

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Awareness Month has been running throughout November. In Northern Ireland, OFTEC has been warning householders of the dangers after an increasing number of incidents across the country this year.

Despite major growth in stove sales, many people are unaware of the connection between CO and fossil fuels. Research in the Republic of Ireland during its CO awareness week in September found that only 50% of consumers were aware of the potential risk from oil heating and just 40% for coal.

“It’s very important that householders understand the importance of checking their home heating systems annually,” said OFTEC Ireland manager David Blevings.

“An oil boiler should be serviced correctly by a qualified technician – a boiler clean will not give protection from a potential carbon monoxide threat. When conducting a boiler service, OFTEC technicians use a flue gas analyser as standard, which gives the boiler an efficiency rating;  more importantly it checks for carbon monoxide spillage.

OFTEC is also establishing a new solid fuel register of qualified heating technicians and installers which clearly details those who have been specifically trained to safely install and maintain solid and multi-fuel stoves.

“People need to be aware of the dangers and ensure stoves are installed and maintained correctly,” added David.  “If a flue is installed incorrectly this can lead to a fire starting in the attic or a carbon monoxide leak. Like all fuel burning appliances, stoves should only be installed by a competent person and then serviced at least once a year for optimum safety and peace of mind.”

Richard Meredith, chair of the CO safety group and head of gas safety at the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland said:

“Now in its third year, we’re delighted that OFTEC continues to support this initiative to highlight the dangers of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide can kill and even low-level exposure over a long period can cause lasting damage to your health.”

“We would agree with OFTEC’s advice for consumers to ensure all fuel burning appliances – such as heaters, boilers and cookers – are serviced at least annually by a registered engineer. And, all chimneys and flues should be inspected annually and swept, if required, by a registered technician. As an additional precaution, you should also install an audible carbon monoxide alarm.”

“The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are often difficult to diagnose as it mimics the symptoms of other common illnesses such as flu and headaches. Everyone should be aware of its dangers and know what measures to take to protect themselves and others.”

watchout.hseni.gov.uk/

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