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What is Carbon Monoxide?



Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, poisonous gas produced by incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels, including gas, oil, wood and coal. Carbon-based fuels are safe to use. It is only when the fuel does not burn properly that excess CO is produced, which is poisonous.  When CO enters the body, it prevents the blood from bringing oxygen to cells, tissues, and organs.


You can't see it, taste it or smell it but CO can kill quickly without warning.[1] Levels that do not kill can cause serious harm to health if breathed in over a long period. In extreme cases paralysis and brain damage can be caused as a result of prolonged exposure to CO. Increasing public understanding of the risks of CO poisoning and taking sensible precautions could dramatically reduce this risk.



Know the Danger Signs


There are signs that you can look out for which indicate incomplete combustion is occurring and may result in the production of CO;


  • A yellow or orange flame rather than a blue flame for a gas appliance (except fuel effect fires or flueless appliances which display this colour flame)
  • Soot or yellow/brown staining around or on appliances
  • Pilot lights that frequently blow out
  • Increased condensation inside windows/walls



There are a number of simple steps that people can take to keep themselves safe. Carbon Monoxide can be produced by any combustion appliance, including those that burn fossil fuels e.g. oil, wood and coal.  If you have one of these appliances you should make sure that:


  • It is serviced and maintained by a competent person every Year.
  • The chimney is cleaned every year.
  • Fit a Carbon Monoxide Alarm



Donegal Fire Authority strongly recommends the use of audible carbon monoxide (CO) alarms as a useful back-up precaution but they must not be regarded as a substitute for proper installation and maintenance of gas appliances by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. Before purchasing a CO alarm, always ensure it complies with British Standard EN 50291 and carries a British or European approval mark, such as a Kitemark. CO alarms should be installed, checked and serviced in line with the manufacturer’s instructions.


You can be particularly at risk from CO poisoning when you are asleep, because you may not be aware of early CO symptoms until it is too late. Having an audible CO alarm could wake you and save your life.



Contact Information


Natural Gas Appliances: Contact a Registered gas Installer (RGI). Local listings can be found at or by contacting RGII on 1850 454454


LPG Appliances:  Contact your fuel supplier or visit


Solid Fuel Appliance: Contact your fuel provider.


Oil Appliances: Contact a qualified technician such as an OFTEC Registered Technician on (01) 8646637 or visit


Carbon monoxide appliance safety notifications are published on or further information call 1850 79 79 79   



What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?


Early symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can mimic many common ailments and may easily be confused with food poisoning, viral infections, flu or simple tiredness. Symptoms to look out for include:


  • headaches or dizziness
  • breathlessness
  • nausea
  • loss of consciousness
  • tiredness
  • pains in the chest or stomach
  • erratic behaviour
  • visual problems




What should I do if I think my appliance is spilling carbon monoxide?


Switch off the appliance and shut off the gas supply at the meter control valve

Open all doors and windows to ventilate the room

Visit your GP and tell him/her that you believe your may have been exposed to carbon monoxide





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