Why aren’t we aware of the silent killer?
My first encounter with Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarms was while in the UK, and I noticed that almost every house had one fitted. Due to the cold winters there, various heating and hot water appliances are widely used and pose Carbon Monoxide poisoning risks. Considering our Adelaide winter is cold enough for the use of similar heating appliances why haven’t we adopted these detectors for our safety? Much in the same way we have mandatory requirements for smoke alarms and safety switches.
As an Electrician in Adelaide and keeping up to date with regulation requirements to do with smoke detectors, I decided to do some investigating. I also asked friends, family and clients what they knew about Carbon Monoxide. Here’s a link to some of our Smoke Detector information http://www.adelaideelectric.com.au/smoke-alarms-part-1/
The information out there.
As it turns out, there is information online and on state government websites that inform us of the dangers of CO and what we can do to prevent exposure. https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/energy-and-environment/using-electricity-and-gas-safely/carbon-monoxide Much like we do with fire danger and smoke detectors. However when I asked people directly about Carbon Monoxide and its dangers there was a lack of awareness, and more so there was a lack of knowledge it can exist in all our homes. It seems the nature of Carbon Monoxide itself means it is often not considered when thinking of home safety.
Fire can be seen, you can smell it, feel the heat of it. It’s destruction can be seen and we know it can injure or kill by way of suffocation or burns. On the other hand Carbon Monoxide is a gas and that it is odourless, tasteless, and invisible. And that’s the problem. Often termed the ‘silent killer’, we don’t know when it is around us. It can kill quickly, but most concerning is that once you feel the symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning it can be too late to reverse the effects.
Carbon Monoxide is a gas given off during the burning of a fuel. This can be natural or LPG gas, wood, oil, petrol and diesel. The most common sources we think of in our home are gas stoves and ovens, heaters and hot water services. But don’t forget other sources such as barbeques and heaters in outdoor enclosed spaces and engines found in generators, cars, gardening equipment. These outdoor appliances must be used in well ventilated areas. I’ve also noticed the increased use of portable petrol generators used in Adelaide due to the power outages and rolling blackouts over hot summers. I’ve seen these positioned next to open house windows or in garages!
What can we do?
What we can do is educate ourselves to be aware of potential Carbon Monoxide gases and avoid those areas or remove those risks in the first place. Have appliances checked by a gas fitter for correct operation. They can also check that flues are operating correctly and check for CO leaks. In Adelaide where there are fuel appliances inside it may be time to consider fitting a Carbon Monoxide Detector.
At Adelaide Electric we install a range of Carbon Monoxide alarms and also a new generation of smoke and CO alarm all in one single unit. If you would like more information on CO Alarms or installation please give us a call or send a message to 0423 057 185.