Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide, also known as CO and "the silent killer", is an odourless, tasteless and colourless gas produced in dangerous amounts when carbon-based fuel like wood, coal, oil or gas are burned without a sufficient air supply. 

Common sources of carbon monoxide are:

  • Defective gas appliances
  • Blocked chimneys and flues
  • Portable fuel burning heaters
  • Barbeques used in confined spaces

Today's modern, energy efficient, airtight home designs can contribute to the problem by trapping CO polluted air inside the home. There are warning signs to look out for:

  • A gas boiler flame that normally burns blue, burning orange or yellow instead
  • Sooty stains on or just above an oil or gas appliance
  • Coal or wood fires that burn slowly or go out

Carbon monoxide can kill in minutes. When you inhale CO, it prevents the body from absorbing oxygen, causing oxygen starvation leading to severe damage and even death. Symptoms of CO poisoning are:

  • Flu symptoms without a fever
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches (tightness across the forehead)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sleepiness or confusion

If you are suffering these symptoms, put out your fire or turn off the appliance, ventilate your home and seek medical attention.

Landlords of private rented properties are required to arrange for annual checks on gas appliances by a qualified person. The legal requirement for this is enforced by the Health and Safety Executive and you can find more information on their website.

Landlords are also required to make sure that there are carbon monoxide detectors in each room where there is a “combustion appliance which is not a gas hob” which in practice means any room with a boiler or working fireplace. Further information on the requirement for carbon monoxide detectors.

If you are a tenant in the Stafford Borough area and have concerns that you do not have working carbon monoxide detectors please call  Housing Standards on 01785 619000 or email

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