Carbon Monoxide Poisoning-the silent killer
A few weeks ago, I moved into a rented property in Ealing, with my husband and our three boys. The property had been rented out previously, but recently the house had been sold to a first time landlord. My family and I moved in as our new landlord got used to being back in England after being away, in Australia, for a year. He hadn’t even begun to think about any regulations or safety requirements that he might have to adhere to, now that he was a landlord.
It was that first evening that the symptoms started to show, my youngest son, Charlie, began to complain of a headache; Tim, my husband, also mentioned feeling unwell. Within an hour all five of us were feeling ill, Charlie and Tim, had progressed to upset stomachs. But of course, at first we thought we either had some kind of bug or possibly food poisoning.
It wasn’t until my Mum and Dad arrived at the new house about 8.30pm, that we started to think it may be something more serious. By that time, Tim, was looking pretty bad, the two younger boys had been packed off upstairs to bed, all had been sick; my eldest son, and Jaydon and I both had severe headaches. My Mum was the one to suggest that our illness could be something to do with carbon monoxide.
After looking up the symptoms of carbon monoxide, we decided to err on the side of caution and open all the windows, luckily it was a warm night. We also decided it might be a good idea to call our landlord. The landlord called out an emergency, Gas Safe certified, Gas and Heating engineer, to have a look at our boiler, as this was the most likely culprit.
The engineer had a good look at the boiler checking the flume outside as well as the boiler itself. Geoff, the engineer found that the seal around the flume had broken, enabling carbon monoxide to seep into the house. Geoff, changed the faulty seal quickly, but as we were still feeling symptomatic, he suggested that it might be advisable to go to the hospital and get checked out.
Luckily doctors at the hospital said that we were unlikely to suffer from any lasting damage. We decided as a family, to be on the safe side, we would stay overnight at my parents house. We all felt a little shell-shocked. I couldn’t help but think how lucky we were, we could have died in our beds. Thank goodness we acted immediately and called out a plumber.
When we went back to the house the next day, the gas had dispersed and we could get back to getting settled in to our new home. We thought it wise to purchase a carbon monoxide detector, Tim fitted it as soon as we got home with it. We didn’t want to take any chances with carbon monoxide ever again.
Article by Deanna Spall
Please read the details below carefully, if you have any of the symptoms mentioned, when entering a property, please seek professional advice immediately. For plumbing in and around the Ealing area please call: www.plumbingealing.co.uk.
If you own your own property, it is worth knowing what is recommended by the government in regards to maintaining boilers and other gas or electrical appliances. As a general rule, these appliances should be tested on a regular basis. It is often a requisite of your insurance policy that your appliances are serviced annually. It is worth taking a look at your insurance policy to clarify your personal situation.
If you are worried at all about Carbon Monoxide (CO), then why not think about investing in a carbon monoxide detector; you can buy the disk detectors for a few pounds or alternatively for around £30 you can acquire an electrical CO detector, you can purchase these from any hardware store.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
- There are between 300-400 hospital admissions related to Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning, per year and around 50 deaths.
- CO is an undetectable gas, both colourless and odourless. A silent killer.
The symptoms of CO poisoning are determined by exposure to the gas. It is just as likely for the symptoms to come on gradually, as it is for you to notice a dramatic change. You may start to notice, for instance, that you have a headache every evening, but by the time you’re at work the following day you feel fine. Or like the family above you might find that you are symptomatic very quickly.
- Mild symptoms- severe headache, nausea and vomiting, this is generally accompanied by a general lethargy and feeling out of sorts.
- Moderate symptoms- with higher levels of CO, you could feel all of the above as well as starting to feel dizzy, you may have trouble concentrating, and this could lead to confusion or drowsiness. It is also common to suffer from breathing problem and chest pains.
- Severe Symptoms- Extreme exposure to CO, can cause seizures, comas or sometimes death.
There are a series of regulations that a landlord needs to be aware of, many are annual and related to servicing household utilities.
- Boiler service- any rentable property with a boiler needs a CP12 certificate, delivered by a registered Gas Safe engineer. The landlord must make this available to you should you ask for it.
- Appliances- appliances that are part of your rental agreement need to be regularly serviced and P.A.T. tested.
For more information on Landlord regulations, please go to your City council: Ealing County Council.
For information you should be aware of as a private tenant: Private Tenant Information