Carbon monoxide poisoning

Incorrectly installed, faulty, poorly maintained or poorly ventilated cooking and heating appliances can give off carbon monoxide (CO).  CO is a poisonous gas that you can't see, smell or taste but causes approximately 30 accidental deaths per year in England and Wales.  Low levels can cause serious harm to your health if breathed in over a long time.

The following video explains how to heat your home safely.

To reduce the risk of CO poisoning:

  • Remember to get your heating system checked every year using a heating engineer registered with Gas Safe (for gas), OFTEC (for oil) or HETAS (for solid fuel).
  • Have flues and chimneys swept and cleaned at least once a year before the start of winter (more if you use them often). Find a HETAS Approved Chimney Sweep , HETAS and HETAS.
  • Fit an audible CO alarm that meets European Standard EN50291.
  • Do not use a gas cooker or oven to heat your home - it is inefficient and there is a risk of CO poisoning
  • Look out for warning signs that your appliances aren't working correctly, such as;
    • black sooty marks around stoves, boilers or fires
    • smoke accumulating in rooms due to faulty flues
    • gas appliances burning with a yellow instead of a blue flame

If your CO alarm is triggered, or you believe any of your appliances are not working correctly:

  • turn off the appliance,
  • open your windows,
  • arrange for a registered engineer to check the appliance as soon as possible.

If you are suffering any symptoms of CO poisoning, you should go outside and call NHS 111 for advice.

For further information on carbon monoxide, visit Be Alarmed! 


Further information is also available at the carbon monoxide - be alarmed! website.

Further Home Heating Safety Advice

  • If you have open fires, make sure you always use a fireguard to protect against sparks and hot embers. Make sure the fire is properly put out before you go to bed.
  • If you use portable heaters, keep them away from curtains and furniture and never use them for drying clothes. Only use gas or paraffin heaters in well-ventilated areas.
  • Use your electric blanket as instructed and get it tested every three years - your local fire service may be able to do this for you. Remember never to use an electric blanket and a hot water bottle together.  Visit the West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service to find out if any electric blanket testing events are being held near you.