Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odourless and tasteless gas produced by
any fuel-burning appliance. As you can probably guess the above picture is for dramatic illustrational purposes, there is a reason carbon monoxide has earned its name ‘the silent killer’.
CO detectors should always be placed as per the manufacturer’s instructions and should be tested monthly especially if battery powered. Its good practice to include the CO detectors in the asset management register. Recording where they are, the serial numbers and expiry dates will allow for proper management for planned replacement.
Activation times for CO detectors as per BS 50291:
- 30ppm detected will activate within 2 hours
- 50ppm detected will activate within 90 mins
- 100ppm detected will activate within 40 mins
- 300ppm detected will activate within 3 mins
If the detector does activate you must be sure that there is no CO within the property. In Scotland, If an alarm does go off it must be put straight through to SGN (Scottish Gas Networks). The current advise given to tenants as per the Scottish Gas Networks website is as follows:
- Open doors and windows to ventilate the property.
- Turn off the gas supply at the meter. Unless the smell of gas and the meter are in a cellar.
- Put out naked flames and don’t smoke.
- Don’t turn off or on any power or light switches.
- Don’t enter the cellar if the smell of gas is in there.
- Call 0800 111 999. The National Gas Emergency Number.
Once SGN have concluded their visit, any competent and qualified gas engineer can attend as the SGN engineer will have detailed what is going on and made the property safe. The competent engineer of your choosing will then carry out regulation 26 (9) checks which involve checking the appliance, the effectiveness of the flue, supply of combustion air, its operating pressure or heat input and safety devices. If there is a strong suspicion while the engineer is carrying out the work that fumes have caused this incident then it would be a belt and braces approach for an engineer who is CMDDA1 qualified as a minimum and has appliance ACS Quals attends for further investigation.
If any tenant has been taken to hospital (being taken as they are incapacitated to take themselves) it will be the supplier’s responsibility to investigate. The landlord at this point has a duty to contact the HSE. Anything that comes to light that would have constituted a danger to the occupant as a result of a leakage of carbon monoxide, the gas contractor must stop work and inform the client that this warrants an investigation by the gas supplier.
Direct, C. (2013). Essential gas safety – domestic. 7th ed. : Corgidirect, pp.50-59.