Detecting a gas leak in your home can be a terrifying moment. Carbon monoxide – the gas released during a gas leak – is extremely harmful when inhaled and can potentially be fatal. According to the NHS, 25 people per year succumb to this silent killer.
However, carbon monoxide poisoning can be avoided if you’ve got precautions in place, supported by the expertise of a gas safety engineer. We’ve answered the most important questions about gas leaks, how to avoid them and what to do if you detect carbon monoxide in your property.
You may be wondering how and why gas leaks occur in the home. Well, the main cause is faulty appliances, including boilers, gas fires, central heating systems, water heaters and cookers. If they’ve been incorrectly installed or maintained, this could lead to a leak. Always make sure your appliances have been installed by a professional gas safe engineer.
Unfortunately, the short answer to this is no. Carbon monoxide is very difficult to detect as it is both odourless and colourless, hence its nickname ‘the silent killer’. You may be able to detect a gas leak by recognising symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning in yourself or a family member, but don’t let that be your first signal. Every property must be installed with a carbon monoxide alarm as this is the only reliable way to identify a gas leak. If you are a landlord, you are legally required to provide and install a carbon monoxide alarm, along with a smoke detector, in your rental properties.
A carbon monoxide alarm is very similar to a smoke or fire detector. It is your first line of defence in recognising a gas leak and the presence of carbon monoxide in your home. Like any other staple appliance, it should be installed by a professional and tested regularly. If your alarm goes off, this means that carbon monoxide is present in your property and you should stop using all appliances immediately, switch them off and ventilate the property as much as possible.
If your alarm goes off, this should alert you to get out of the area as soon as possible. However, if you do not have an alarm or it isn’t working properly, you could be unknowingly inhaling harmful carbon monoxide fumes. Once it enters your bloodstream, it forms carboxyhaemoglobin which stops your blood from carrying oxygen and you’ll start to experience the following symptoms:
● Tension headaches
● Nausea and vomiting
● Stomach pains
● Difficulty breathing
If you experience a combination of these side effects, exit the property and seek medical attention immediately as continuing to inhale carbon monoxide can cause you to lose consciousness. Overexposure can kill within minutes, meanwhile, continual low-level exposure can also be dangerous in the long-term – this is why it’s so important to install a carbon monoxide alarm.
Once you and your family are safely out of the house, you should contact a local gas company to fix the gas leak as soon as possible. At West London Gas, we regularly deal with gas leaks and safely resolve them. We can also safely install boilers, heating systems and alarms and carry out necessary regularly checks. Call us today on 020 8434 3644.