OFTEC highlights dan­gers of ‘silent killer’ in the home

The Corkman - - NEWS - BILL BROWNE

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.

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