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Carbon Monoxide: Advice for tenants and the general public

There’s a lot to think about day to day within your home life. What’s for dinner tonight? When am I meeting my friends? And when can I fit in shopping? But if there’s just one question you need to ask yourself it’s: Do I understand carbon monoxide and am I safe?   


Many people don’t know what carbon monoxide is, so you’re not alone if you’re unsure. We have worked with Wales and West Utilities to develop this information and pull together resources to help keep you and your loved ones safe.

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, poisonous gas that is released when any fossil fuel, such as coal, oil, wood, petrol, barbeque charcoal and gas, doesn't burn properly.

Breathing it in can make you unwell, and it can kill. Even low levels of exposure, over a long period, can cause serious health issues.

What are the signs of a carbon monoxide leak?

Carbon monoxide is tasteless, odourless and invisible, so you could easily not know if you have a leak.

However, there are some things you can keep an eye out for that might indicate a problem:

  • Gas appliances that are burning with a floppy yellow or orange flame that is normally crisp and blue

  • Extra condensation inside windows

  • Pilot lights on boilers frequently blowing out

  • Soot or yellow stains around appliances

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Symptoms of CO poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning happens when you breathe in even small amounts of this poisonous gas. Every year around 40 people die and over 4,000 become seriously ill as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea (feeling sick) and vomiting
  • Tiredness and confusion
  • Stomach pain
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be similar to those of food poisoning and the flu. However, unlike the flu, carbon monoxide poisoning does not cause a high temperature (fever).

How to stay safe from carbon monoxide in your home


Ensure gas appliances are serviced annually by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer


Get an audible CO alarm which is certified to British Standard BS EN 50292 which can be purchased from your local DIY store, supermarket or energy supplier


Ensure you alarm is fitted in the correct position


Always follow the manufacturers instructions for fitting an alarm

Keeping safe on holiday

It’s probably the last thing you want to think about when you’re relaxing on holiday. But carbon monoxide poisoning can happen anywhere, any time.

If your holiday accommodation has any fuel-burning appliances, it should be equipped with CO alarms. But when you’re packing your sun lotion and beach towel, make space in your luggage for a CO alarm too.

Safety tips for camping and caravanning 

It isn't just the gas appliances in your home that can produce carbon monoxide. Any appliance which burns coal, oil or wood can also produce CO. So, it's also important to be aware of CO if you are planning to stay in holiday accommodation, on a boat or at a campsite. Never use a BBQ in an enclosed space such as a tent or awning

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What to do in an emergency

Act fast if you’re concerned about carbon monoxide.

If you suspect carbon monoxide, call the National Gas Emergency number on 0800 111 999 (lines are open 24/7).
If you think you’ve been exposed to carbon monoxide, call 999 immediately.


Get involved and spread the word

We’ve created resources below that you can send to your family members, colleagues and groups to raise awareness about carbon monoxide.

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CO pocket guide

Download and share our FREE pocket guide with your family members, colleagues and groups.

Carbon monoxide video

Watch and share our carbon monoxide video to help more people get in know about CO.

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Further advice

If you believe your landlord is neglecting their responsibility for gas safety, please contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for free legal advice and know your rights by visiting the Landlords' responsibility for gas safety site for further advice.


crack the COde page link
Can you crack the COde?

The COdebreakers are on a mission to raise awareness of carbon monoxide (CO) - and they need your support!

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Purchasing your CO alarm

Get an audible CO alarm which is certified to British Standard BS EN 50291 which can be purchased from your local DIY store, supermarket or energy supplier. Make sure it’s in the correct position too!

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Spread the word

If you have found this webpage useful, share it on social media using hashtag #COintheknow

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