Preventing carbon monoxide poisoning 

The best way to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning is to be aware of the dangers, and to identify appliances that could emit carbon monoxide gas.

It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Follow the safety tips below to help protect yourself at home and in the workplace: 

  • Never use ovens or gas ranges to heat your home.
  • Never use oversized pots on your gas stove, or place foil around the burners.
  • Make sure rooms are well-ventilated and do not block air vents. If your home is double-glazed or draught-proofed, make sure there is still enough air circulating for any heaters that are in the room.
  • Do not use gas-powered equipment and tools inside your home if you can avoid it. Only use them in a well-ventilated area, and put the engine unit and exhaust outside.
  • Always use a safety mask when using chemicals that contain methylene chloride.
  • Do not burn charcoal in an enclosed space, such as on an indoor barbecue.
  • Do not sleep in a room that has an unflued gas fire or a paraffin heater.
  • Fit an extractor fan in your kitchen (if it doesn't already have one).

Maintaining and servicing appliances

Boilers, cookers, heating systems and appliances should be installed and regularly serviced by a reputable, registered engineer. Do not attempt to install or service appliances yourself.

Anyone carrying out work on installations and appliances in your home must be registered with a relevant association:

Maintaining chimneys and flues

Make sure that all chimneys and flues are swept regularly by a qualified sweep who is a member of either: 

Engine exhaust fumes

The following precautions can help to protect you from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by exhaust fumes:

  • Do not leave petrol-fuelled lawnmowers or cars running in the garage
  • Make sure your car's exhaust is checked every year for leaks
  • Make sure your exhaust is not blocked before turning the engine on – for example, after heavy snowfall

Carbon monoxide alarms

Make sure you install an audible carbon monoxide alarm, as this will provide an early warning system if there is a leak in your home. You can buy one from a DIY or hardware store.

Carbon monoxide alarms give out a high-pitched noise when levels are high. However, a carbon monoxide alarm is not a substitute for maintaining and regularly servicing household appliances.

When buying a carbon monoxide alarm, you should make sure that it is approved to the latest British or European Standard (BS Kitemark or EN50291).

Page last reviewed: 21/06/2014

Next review due: 21/06/2016