Archive for the 'Carbon Monoxide' Category

Contacting MP and movers and shakers about CO awareness – the All Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group and others

OK I’m like a dog with a bone about the CO awareness issue.  This is what I’m doing.

I am contacting the All Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group and all involved with the CO All Fuels Action Forum – by post/twitter/or email.

I want to make them aware of the book CO Not Just A Killer, of course, maybe those individuals may have ways to bring it it the attention of the public – it is cheap (or Free) readily available – quick and easy to read, why not expect most people to read it and help themselves?

What are the aims of the APPCO group?

preventing Carbon Monoxide poisoning” was published by the group in 2011, Baroness Finley was the inquiry chair and it made these recommendations:

  1. No VAT on CO alarms
  2. Mortgage providers & estate agents should require Co alarms and fuel fired appliances are serviced.
  3. Green deal work should be done by engineers who are members of recognised professional body (eg Gas Safe Register) and CO alarms fitted.􀀷􀁋􀁈􀀃􀀪􀁒􀁙􀁈􀁕􀁑􀁐􀁈
  4. NHS clinicians should recognise symptoms of CO poison and have equipment to test for it.
  5. Studies required into health impact on survivors.􀁑􀁗􀀃􀁖􀁋􀁒􀁘􀁏􀁇
  6. Trial GPs prescribing Gas Safety Checks.
  7. Coroners should routinely test for Co poisoning and a central register of CO deaths set up.
  8. Gas Emergency personnel should have CO alarms/monitors.
  9. Ambulance services should have CO monitors.
  10. Better information around sale or camping & BBQ equipment and at campsites.
  11. Carbon monoxide should be taught at school.
  12. Gas retailers have a role in raising awareness.
  13. An All Fuels Forum to coordinate awareness campaigns.
  14. The government should amend the Gas Safety Installation & Use 1998 legislations to: (a) make the use of flue-gas analysers compulsory; (b) make full service of all appliances in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions compulsory (that is usually annually); (c) CO alarms in rented properties to be compulsory.
  15. Consider CO alarms under building regulations part J.
  16. Regulations for all fossil fuels should be bought in line with those for Gas.
  17. Should be a central point for data on CO fatalities & injuries arranged by HSE & industry.

All good points. I  agree with 17 recommendations although it is hard to imagine how some will be implemented and in what time scale.

I would like to see a high profile hard hitting TV campaign.  In my life there have been several that made big impacts and I remember to this day:

  • Clunk Click
  • Only a fool breaks the two second rule
  • The danger on escalators (I can’t remember the words but I remember the teddy)
  • The HIV & Tombstones

Personally I have a different perspective based on my own little life experience.  Most accidental CO poisonings in this country are due to misuse of or using faulty heating & cooking equipment.

I talk mostly to gas engineers.  Everyday they see faulty appliances that are old and rarely serviced.  They see the work of cowboy and DIY installations and repairs – many of these are poor or just outright dangerous. The public are blissfully ignorant of the danger – they think fire or explosion and they know they will smell a gas leak.

1 in 5 gas appliances in use this winter could be dangerous – all research suggests the risks are this high.

 Here are some of my personal recommendations:

TV campaign

  • CO awareness.
  • Make it clear that DIY work on gas & other fuels is dangerous, illegal and anti-social.
  • That you need to check the Gas Safe Register card.
  • Publicity that annual servicing of all appliances is important (many people don’t have their fires serviced because they don’t realise they should).
  • The Building Regulations notification scheme (for boilers, etc) should help to prevent installation by unregistered fitters, but still many consumers are unaware of this.

Mandatory annual servicing? Like a vehicle MOT – it sort of makes sense but I can see many arguments against this and it will be difficult to implement.  I think it would be better if more people voluntarily prioritised regular maintenance of their appliances by a trained, qualified professional engineer.  People might do that if there was better awareness – so lets get those TV, radio & newspapers adverts in place!

Consumer Information: A clear message about annual servicing & the need to employ professionals (such as a Gas Safe registered engineers for gas) should be  on the packaging of gas appliances, at the forefront of the user manual and at point of sale. Anyone can buy a gas fire or boiler or oven in DIY shops but it needs to be clear they can’t fit them.

Low income homeowners: There is already a scheme to enable low income household to get a FREE Gas Safety Check – through the Priority Services Register maintained by utility providers.  There should be far more publicity for this.

And if I were to go further, what about:

  • No VAT on installation & repair of heating and cooking equipment – these are essentials not luxuries!  Or at least reduce the VAT to 5% instead of 20%.
  • Appliances & parts only available to registered installers, not on sale to the general public.
  • The book, CO Not Only A killer to be distributed to all households! Of Course!

Increasing general public awareness should be high on the agenda and would make all the other stuff so much easier.

Why aren’t carbon Monoxide alarms compulsory in England when they are in Scotland & N Ireland?

Why?  I think the great extent of the problem was not fully recognised until very recently and soon England will follow.

A few years ago CO alarms were more expensive but the number of lives lost was quite low.  Now experts know that 4,000 people per year are poisoned and the 40 deaths per year may be an underestimate.  Meanwhile, CO alarms are really cheap now and have long lifespans.

I hope it is just a matter of time before CO alarms are legally required in all UK homes.  Having said that they are not universal in Scotland or Ireland.  It is only new Building Regulations that require alarm to be fitted in the same room as any new carbon fuel fired appliance in those parts of the UK.

If the same rule was extended to England then perhaps 1 million homes per year might require an alarm, over time all homes with such an appliance would be covered but for many years most homes would not fall within the category.

For your own safety I think you should have a CO alarm in a room with a boiler, fire, oven or other appliance that burns fossil fuels or carbon fuels.

Also – upstairs in the sleeping area as CO may rise with the warm air.

Also – in any homes that are attached to other buildings, eg. terraces, semi-detached houses and flats because CO can and often does penetrate through to neighbouring homes.

Want to book a speaker about the dangers of carbon monoxide?

What better time than in Gas Safety Week (that’s now, BTW) to book a speaker to talk to your organisation, charity, school class about the dangers of Carbon Monoxide.

If you would like to know more or like to book me just leave a message here – it is moderated so will not be published – or email me at

It’s not all about faulty boilers!

Carbon Monoxide Not Only a Killer

4000 are injured by Carbon Monoxide toxic gas each year and end up in A&E.

This book by Deborah Percy (see right of here for the cover image) tells you all you need to know to avoid being part of the statistics.

The cheapest ways to get hold of the book are:

in print from Amazon – £2.99! (makes a great gift!!!! – what a stocking filler)

less than £1 from Kindle

or free as a download from

I am not selling the book directly because I simply can’t compete with such a low price from Amazon, I would have to charge £4.99 to cover P&P.  For anyone who wants to order bulk copies of the book for distribution, however, contact for a good price.

Finally more CO facts:

About 40 people each year are killed by being accidentally poisoned by Carbon Monoxide (CO), totally avoidable deaths.  Yes you are more likely to die on the road but no-one needs to die due to CO gas.

new book on CO poisoning

Just working on the cover for my soon to be available book.  Here is what it might look life, but it might not!


The photographer has kindly granted permission to use this image,

he is Doug McAbee

and more of his work can be viewed here:

Really wonderful nature photographs.

Best Carbon Monoxide Alarm to take on Holiday

Very few people are killed accidentally from Carbon Monoxide poisoning – but it is always tragic and totally preventable.

I think I am pretty safe in my house but what about when I go on holiday: I  may not even know that there could be a risk of CO poisoning.

I don’t want to worry you but carbon monoxide travels through walls and floors.


  • people in a hotel unaware that they are sleeping next to the boiler room or above a room with a fireplace.
  • a family were poisoned in a tent – the CO came from a smouldering BBQ -OUTSIDE.

The last time I stayed at a Have Holiday caravan park the first thing I noticed was that the Gas Safety Certificate was out of date!  I reported it, of course – and credit to them, the safety check was done the very next day.

I plan to take a CO alarm to any future holiday destination.

Any new CO alarm with a Kitemark and British Standard EN 50291 should be OK.  For it to be useful you must get it out of your suitcase and out of the box!  Put it on a table, bookcase or chest of draws and away from a draught – so not on the window ledge.

British and US Carbon Monoxide alarms will be triggered by the right (or wrong)  combination of events:

  • as CO levels rise and
  • as higher than normal CO levels are recorded over an extended time period.

Normally CO will be resent in very small amounts, less than 10 parts per million.  CO is created when ANY fuel is burnt – where there is a flame there could be CO (eg. gas cooker) – but usually in small measure.

Naturally, CO can rise and fall in a way that is not any danger to health.  So a rise in CO will not trigger your CO alarm unless that level remain high for sometime.

This may sound vague but this is because it depends on how high and for how long – levels of 50 ppm are not usually dangerous but not ideal and may led to long term health consequences.

I want a CO monitor that actually gives me values for the CO in the atmosphere so that I can see if the long term levels are high even if they are not high enough to trigger the alarm. Or if there are exceptionally high peaks for very short period, which also would not trigger the alarm.

If you buy an alarm that reports this data you need to understand it.

Here you will find a useful table indicating the time-scales for exposure to CO at different levels and associated symptoms:

In summary 10 ppm or less is ideal and considered safe.

Up to 50 ppm or even higher for a while is nothing to worry about.

When the CO level exceeds 100 ppm we want to see it fall again quite quickly.

Exposure to CO at 400 ppm is life threatening after about 3 hours (less for children & pets).

If CO levels rise much above 800 ppm you can consider this to be an emergency – everyone must get to fresh air quickly to avoid unconsciousness: so open all the door and windows before getting the children or you run the risk of all being knocked unconscious.

Levels over 6,000 ppm can kill with 25 minutes but that doesn’t mean you have 25 minutes because the CO can render you unconscious very within seconds.

Getting back to the original question:

Which Carbon Monoxide Alarm would I buy?

I am more familiar with Honeywell and FireAngel brands, though others should be just as good.

At £22.50 this is a good buy from Tesco: the Fireangel Digital Carbon Monoxide Alarm Catalogue Number: 100-6185  you can also buy it from B&Q at a slightly higher price.  Or here it is on amazon:

Corgi have recommended the Honeywell H450EN carbon monoxide detector without all the extra data, it can generally be bought for about £23.

For information on Carbon Monoxide you could visit the website a wide range of films have been gathered onto this site to provide information to adults and children of all ages about the dangers of CO.

CO poisoning film for kids

What a great film made by children at Park Hill Primary School, Moseley.

Do watch it.

The Silent Killer at Home Carbon Monoxide free ebook by D Percy from smashwords

Gas Safety In the Home ebook by D Percy

Gas Safety In the Home ebook by Deborah Percy FREE at

Buy my books

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