RESIDENTS in Dorset are being urged to take action to protect themselves from carbon monoxide poisoning while heating up their homes this winter.

The warning from trade association OFTEC comes as part of Carbon Monoxide Awareness Month (November), a national campaign highlighting the potential risks of CO poisoning which kills around 30 people and hospitalises more than 4,000 every year in the UK.

Carbon monoxide is produced when carbon fuels don’t burn properly, and any type of heating system where combustion takes place can potentially give off the odourless, colourless gas.

Exposure can result in severe long-term health problems, or even death, with younger and older people as well as pets most at risk. The gas is often called the "silent killer."

Key symptoms to watch out for include tiredness, dizziness and headaches.

In support of the campaign, OFTEC is offering advice on how households in Dorset can take simple steps to reduce the risk:

n Purchase audible CO alarms - it is important to have an audible CO alarm for every room which has a fuel burning appliance e.g. boiler, woodburner or open fire. They usually cost around £20 each. It is mandatory for private landlords to provide an alarm in rented properties with a solid fuel appliance.

n Test and check - residents with CO alarms installed in their house should check them regularly to see if they are working correctly. This can be done by simply holding the ‘test’ button

n Avoid blocking ventilation of wood burners and stoves - if you have an open fire, wood burner or stove, it is important to make sure that it has a constant supply of air and is not blocked at any time

n Service your boiler - ensure you have your boiler serviced at least once a year by a registered technician

n What to do if your CO alarm goes off? - Make sure you open all the windows and then leave the room immediately. If you experience any symptoms of CO poisoning, call 999.

Malcolm Farrow from OFTEC said: “Carbon monoxide poisoning can have a devastating impact on the lives of the people it affects so it is extremely important households not only understand the potential risks but take the relevant action to prevent them. Landlords should also make sure they are following the correct regulations to ensure the safety of their tenants.”

“By supporting Carbon Monoxide Awareness Month, we hope to bring more attention to this issue. I would also urge others to get involved and help spread the important safety messages.”


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