but this is even more common with the elderly.

Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week 2013 and Checklist for your elderly Loved One

Most Irish people are unaware of the connection between burning fossil fuels and the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, but this is even more common with the elderly.

CO is a poisonous gas; however, it is colourless and odourless. It is produced when fossil fuels, such as oil, gas and coal, do not have enough oxygen to burn completely.

If inhaled into the body, CO combines with the blood, preventing it from absorbing oxygen. If a person inhales CO over a period of time, they are at risk of becoming seriously ill or even dying. Around six people die every year in Ireland as a result of accidental CO poisoning.

In order to prevent CO, fuel burning appliances, such as gas boilers, should be serviced on an annual basis and chimneys, vents and flues should be kept clear.

As part of Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week, which runs until September 29, people are being reminded of the importance of installing a CO alarm in their homes and also to do a check on your elderly loved ones and where possible to install a CO alarm.

Carbon Monoxide alarms are available from many hardware and DIY stores.

There are some points you need to be aware of to make sure your alarm effectively protects you.

Where to locate Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when installing alarms or have a qualified installer fit it for you.

What type should I use?

Many different alarms are available but we recommend that the alarm;

  • Complies with European Standard EN 50291 – This should be marked on the box
  • Carries the CE Mark
  • Has an ‘end of life’ indicator – This indicator should not be confused with any ‘fault’ indicator
  • Carries an independent certification mark – For example a kite mark, this indicates that the alarm has been approved by an accredited testing and certification organisation.

We recommend that you do not use ‘black spot’ type passive indicators that change colour when carbon monoxide is present – these will not wake you up if carbon monoxide is present whilst you are asleep.

One alarm may not be sufficient

If all your fuel-burning appliances (including their exhaust flues and air supplies) are in the one room, then one alarm in that room may suffice. If the appliances/flues are located in more than one room, then an alarm should be fitted in each of those rooms.

Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when installing alarms or have a qualified installer fit it for you.

Make sure the alarm can be heard

If the alarm(s) cannot be heard in any living rooms and in all bedrooms, more advanced alarms that include the provision for interconnecting them can be used. In this case, if one interconnected alarm detects CO, it will trigger the other units to also sound an alarm. This allows you to position extra alarms close to the living rooms and bedrooms, where they will be audible.

You should test the alarm regularly and replace it when it reaches the end of its life.

Carbon Monoxide alarms have a limited lifetime, and the manufacturer will specify when it should be replaced. We recommend alarms that incorporate an end-of-life indicator. Never hold on to a Carbon Monoxide alarm after its useful date has expired.

Safety Precautions

  • Ensure your appliances are correctly installed and SERVICED ANNUALLY
  • Ensure that rooms in your home containing heating appliances are properly ventilated – NEVER BLOCK VENTS
  • Make sure all chimneys are regularly swept and kept clear
  • Use appliances only for the PURPOSE for which they were designed, e.g. do not use a cooker to heat a room
  • NEVER use any appliance if you suspect it might be faulty
  • If undertaking ALTERATIONS to your home which may affect the safety or efficiency of your heating installation (e.g. adding an extension, converting a garage, removing internal walls, changing a living room into a bedroom, double glazing / weather sealed doors) follow this safety advice:
    • Do not block or build around any existing air vents or flues
    • If creating a new living space, ensure it has ventilation in accordance with Building Regulations
    • If adding additional radiators ensure that your boiler can cope with the additional capacity
    • If you are altering or adding appliances to a natural gas or LPG installation, ensure that work is carried out to IS813:2002 Domestic Gas Installations
    • Get professional advice on ventilation and flueing before embarking on alterations to your house. Contact your fuel supplier for details of qualified personnel

Use Carbon Monoxide alarms but remember these are no substitute for regular inspection and maintenance of appliances, vents, flues and chimneys. Check that the Carbon Monoxide alarm complies with the EN 50291 standard.

For those who may live away from their loved ones checking for a CO monitor  is part of our safety check, call us today to arrange a consultation  051 333966.