Carbon Monoxide Alarm: Why You Need One

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer. It is odourless, colourless and undetectable without a carbon monoxide alarm. Carbon monoxide can cause serious illness and even death with prolonged or serious exposure.

How do I know if I’ve got carbon monoxide poisoning?

Carbon monoxide poisoning can often go undetected for quite some time because carbon monoxide leaves the system once exposure ceases, meaning that once the victim has got to the doctors surgery for a test, carbon monoxide levels may have dropped much lower.

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Breathlessness
  • Collapse
  • Loss of consciousness


If you have any of the above symptoms, and these symptoms only tend to occur when you’re at home, you may well be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. If you suspect a carbon monoxide leak, you should switch off your gas appliances, open all of your doors and windows, and immediately contact an RGII registered gas installer to inspect your appliances. You should also contact a doctor as soon as possible.

How can I prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?

A carbon monoxide alarm is a device designed to detect a dangerous leak. When fitted in the correct place, a carbon monoxide alarm can (and does) save lives. At least 50 people in the UK die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning.

A carbon monoxide alarm should be fitted in a central location like a hallway or on the landing. Ideally it should be in the same room as the appliance but at least a metre away, and away from outside doors.

Be sure to choose a carbon monoxide detector with an audible alarm. You are most at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning when you are asleep, as you wouldn’t notice the symptoms before it was too late.

What is the law surrounding carbon monoxide alarms?

At present there is no legal obligation to fit carbon monoxide detectors in homes. However in Scotland from October this year, laws surrounding carbon monoxide alarms will be tightened up, and it may not be long before Ireland follows suit.

The new carbon monoxide alarm law in Scotland will mean that under building regulations, all homes where new or replacement boilers (or other gas heating appliance) are installed must also be fitted with a carbon monoxide alarm.

However, experts believe that the powers that be should push for further laws ensuring that all homes with gas appliances are retrofitted with a mandatory carbon monoxide alarm. This is because new appliances are very safe, with only poor workmanship causing them to become a danger – and poor workmanship can be prevented as far as possible with laws already in place regarding who can service, repair or replace a gas boiler in the UK and Ireland.