Dispelling the myths surrounding the Silent Killer!

Fireplace.co.uk Dispelling the myths surrounding the Silent Killer!

These are just some of the incorrect assumptions surrounding CO that we’ve received over the last 5 years. Within this article, we aim to tackle these myths and misunderstandings.

CO and CO2Dispelling the myths surrounding the silent killer 1
CO is carbon monoxide and CO2 is carbon dioxide. Both gases appear very similar in the way they are written, but they are in fact hugely different! We’ve all heard about CO2 and its link with pollution and global warming, and therefore it’s probably not too unsurprising that the two get confused. So let’s take a look at each in turn:

CO2 is a naturally occurring gas, essential to life itself. Plants/trees absorb CO2 via the growing process / “photosynthesis”, in turn providing us with oxygen.  Oxgen is breathed in and CO2 is naturally breathed out by humans / animals, and can also be generated as a by-product of combustion from the burning of fossil fuels. CO2 is only toxic at high concentrations, and is often predicated by uncomfortable changes in the local environment, coupled to a noticeable shortness of breath and sweating.

CO on the other hand is a truly poisonous & deadly gas. Odourless and colourless, CO can be lethal even in mild concentrations and with few detectable symptoms. CO is formed when ANY fuel is burned with insufficient oxygen being present – “Incomplete Combustion”!

How is this caused? Faulty appliances, poor workmanship, lack of regular servicing alongside the more subtle blocked chimneys, “blocked-up” fresh air room vents and even a BBQ being taken into an awning/tent for additional warmth! All are very real scenarios and all have had catastrophic outcomes!

Dispelling the myths surrounding the silent killerCO and Fuel Types
Even though most appliances sold in the UK, are probably safer than they have ever been, the process of incomplete combustion of ANY fuel type (gas, LPG, coal, wood etc) can still happen! Therefore each appliance within the home does have the propensity to produce the deadly CO gas. However the use of approved appliances, professional installers, regular maintenance plans and an appropriately sited CO alarm (silently keeping watch), all work together to provide safer homes.

CO “False Alarms”
Although all CO alarms on the market should comply with relevant National, European and International standards, we have seen evidence of CO alarms that trigger at levels some way below the safe limits given within the legislature. This may at first appear a positive! However it can lead to alarms triggering within safe limits and rather than saving lives, creates apathy from the resident and mistrust of the technology from the installer suggesting a potentially “unsafe” installation… This really can be the worst of all scenarios for all and hence why we always ask that you seek out CO alarms that are both EN 50291-1 and -2 certified AND BSI Kite-Marked.

This additional certification will ensure that the CO alarm is tested to the very highest standards available, ensuring both the safety of resident and installer alike.

With SKAN’s 60 year heritage within the UK fireplace market and HONEYWELL’s class leading XC series of CO alarms, we continue to support our industry and it’s professional governing bodies. As an example, and working with HETAS and the GUILD of Master Chimney Sweeps, we’ve put together a CO leaflet bespoke to the multi-fuel stove market, useful to the approved installer and which are available free to download. Should you need further information on CO, or the location of your nearest distributor, please feel free to contact us: info@skan.co.uk or 01217333003 or go to: http://www.homesafety.honeywell.com/prodxseries.html 


Related articles




"We hope you enjoyed this article. Please share your tips, questions and comments below"



Fields with * are required.