Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning warning as winter bites

Now that the weather is taking a turn for the worse, more people will be reaching for the thermostat or stoking up their wood burners for extra warmth.
But Carmarthenshire County Council is urging people to ensure their gas and solid fuel heaters are safe and serviced.
Teams from Public Protection, Property Services and Housing are all playing their part in encouraging tenants, landlords and homeowners to check that their boilers, gas and solid fuel fires are properly maintained.
Failure to do so could be deadly - on average, 50 people a year across the UK are killed by carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning due to faulty heating appliances.
Carbon monoxide is known as a ‘silent killer’ as it is odourless, colourless and tasteless, making it difficult to detect. It can be given off by appliances that burn fossil fuels such as gas, coal, wood or oil if the appliances are not working properly, the flue is blocked, or the room is not properly ventilated.
But simple annual maintenance and regular checks can be all it takes to ensure they are working safely.
For a small cost, CO alarms can also provide extra peace of mind, giving a vital warning should it start to leak into the home.
Environmental Health teams have been working with tenants and landlords in the private rented sector, alongside colleagues from Housing and Property Services who also work to ensure the council’s own tenants are protected.
Last year, the council hit the headlines when it executed a warrant to gain entry into a Llanelli tenant’s home after failed attempts to service his gas boiler, demonstrating the importance it places on ensuring heating appliances are safe.
Cllr Jim Jones, Executive Board Member for Public Protection, said: “You simply cannot afford to skip a service or fail to regularly check heating appliances – it may save you a few pound, but could end up costing you your life.
“Carbon monoxide is a serious danger, but you only have to take some simple steps to protect you and your family.
“If you are a landlord, it is your responsibility to ensure appliances at homes you rent are serviced and maintained annually. If you are a tenant, you need to ensure you allow servicing to take place.
“If you are a homeowner, just make a call to an approved gas technician and book a service. Don’t put it off for another day, do it now.”
Early warning signs of CO poisoning include feeling unusually faint or suffering headaches. If CO is detected, you should leave the room immediately, open doors and windows and call for help.

Further information and advice about carbon monoxide and servicing is available on the council’s website,

In brief, for solid fuel fires:
  • Chimneys should be swept at least once a year
  • The throat plate and flue should be cleaned every fortnight and after heavy rain and strong winds
  • Ash pans should be emptied at least once a day
  • To burn safely, logs should be well seasoned, dry, with low resin content and not painted or varnished
  • Rooms need to be ventilated as the fire needs fresh air to burn safely


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