Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, poisonous gas produced by the incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels. If inhaled, it can prove fatal and is therefore commonly known as the ‘silent killer’.

When fuels, such as coal, wood, petrol and oil, do not burn properly, excess and poisonous carbon monoxide gas is produced. If inhaled, it can enter the bloodstream and prevent oxygen from being carried around the body.

Carbon monoxide can be released from a gas appliance if it has been incorrectly fitted, badly repaired or poorly maintained. It can also occur if chimneys, flues or vents are blocked.

Every year in the UK, more than 200 people are hospitalised and around 60 people die as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

What are the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning?

Understanding the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can help you to identify the warning signs. Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning can include headaches, nausea, vomiting, confusion, tiredness and breathing problems.

gas fire with ornate white surround

You should suspect carbon monoxide poisoning if:

  • Other people in your home or workplace fall ill with similar symptoms
  • Your symptoms disappear when you go away (for example, on holiday) and return when you come back
  • Your symptoms tend to be seasonal – for example, you get headaches more often during the winter when the central heating is used more frequently
  • Your pets also become ill

How can you avoid a carbon monoxide leak?

Installing an audible carbon monoxide alarm in your home, arranging regular gas safety checks and being aware of your surroundings can help you stay safe at home. The following warning signs could indicate a carbon monoxide leak:

  • Black, sooty marks on the front covers of gas fires
  • Sooty marks on the walls around boilers, stoves or fires
  • Smoke building up in rooms due to a faulty flue
  • Yellow rather than blue flames coming from gas appliances

blue and orange naked hob flame
carbon monoxide alarm on ceiling

What should you do if you think your appliance is leaking 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
  • Call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999
  • Visit your GP and report that you believe you may have been exposed to carbon monoxide

How to make a carbon monoxide claim

In order to make a carbon monoxide claim, you must be able to prove that someone else’s negligence resulted in your exposure to carbon monoxide. If you live in a rented property your landlord is legally responsible for your safety in your home; they must arrange for a gas safety check to be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer annually and keep a record of the safety check for two years. Likewise, it is your employer’s duty to protect you at work.

Contact Thompsons Solicitors

If you have suffered carbon monoxide poisoning at home or have been exposed to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in the workplace, contact our specialist team today for legal advice on 0800 0 224 224. Alternatively, to learn more about how we can support your personal injury claim, click below.