OFTEC highlights dangers of ‘silent killer’ in the home
WITH winter now well and truly upon us, the body responsible for maintaining standards within the Irish fuel industry has urged people to ensure they are protected from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in their homes.
The onset of cold weather heightens the threat of what has been dubbed ‘ the silent killer’, which has been linked to the recent deaths of an elderly couple in Kilkenny.
OFTEC has said that on average carbon monoxide poisoning is responsible for up to two deaths in Ireland each year, and that given recent tragedies it was vitally important that homeowners were aware of the serious risks that it can pose.
CO is a colourless, odourless gas that poses a particular risk to younger and older people, with symptoms of CO poisoning including tiredness, dizziness and headaches.
OFTEC Ireland manager David Blevings said that CO can be produced within any type of heating system as a result of fossils fuels such as wood, peat, oil or gas not burning properly.
“As we have seen in the past, CO poisoning can result in severe long-term health complications and, in extreme cases, can be fatal,” he said.
He said there were a few simple tips that people can take to reduce their risk of exposure to CO emissions.
“People should have CO alarms, which cost approximately €20 each, for every room that has a fuel-burning appliance such as a boiler, wood burner or open fire. An alarm should also be installed where a new or replacement combustion solid fuel, gas or oil appliance has been installed and in or near each bedroom,” said Mr Blevings.
“It is vitally important that these alarms are tested regularly to ensure they are in working order. In the event of an alarm going off, open windows, leave the building and immediately call the emergency services.”
Mr Blevings said as incorrectly installed or poorly maintained appliances posed the greatest risk of CO emissions, it is crucial that they be serviced at least once a year by an OFTEC-registered technician.
“This is your first line of defence. It is extremely important that householders realise the potential risk from CO emissions and use this simple checklist to reduce the very real risk that they can pose,” he said.