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What is carbon monoxide?

Potential carbon monoxide sources in the home

We aim to ensure that people are aware of the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) and stay safe. CO is a highly poisonous gas that is produced by the incomplete burning of fossil fuels (including gas, oil, wood, petrol and coal).

It’s not just appliances in the home that can produce CO. Other risk areas include:

  • Camping sites
  • Boats
  • Wood pellet storage areas
  • Using BBQs in enclosed areas
  • Portable heaters
  • Holiday accommodation
  • Garages

All SGN Natural Gas emergency staff wear personal atmosphere monitors (PAMs) which help provide an early warning of potential danger. Our effective use of technology helps to keep our customers safe.
This ad was developed as part of the HSENI “Watchout Carbon Monoxide Kills” campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning among the Northern Ireland population.

Five steps to CO safety

Is it burning lazy and orange? It should be crisp and blue. Other signs to check for – are there black marks on or around the appliance, does the pilot light frequently blow out or is there too much condensation?
Is the flue from the appliance or your chimney blocked? Is there enough ventilation to allow your gas appliances to burn correctly? If they don’t have a sufficient air supply, they could produce CO.
Have all your gas appliances checked every year. Always use a Gas Safe™ registered engineer to fit, fix and check your appliances.
Headaches, nausea, dizziness, breathlessness, collapsing and loss of consciousness are all symptoms of CO poisoning. If these symptoms occur when you’re at home but disappear when you are away from home, go straight to hospital and get checked for possible CO poisoning.
If you are a tenant, by law, your landlord must check your appliances every year. Ask for a copy of the annual gas safety record. Check if your landlord has fitted an audible CO alarm. If you are a landlord, it’s your responsibility to make sure your tenants are safe. You must make sure that gas pipework, flues and appliances are in good condition and checked every year by a Gas Safe™ registered engineer.

Are you CO protected?


Do everything you can to protect yourself from the dangers of CO poisoning. Get your appliances fitted and checked by a Gas Safe™ registered engineer and fit an audible CO alarm that complies with BS EN 50291. You can buy a carbon monoxide detector from some supermarkets, DIY stores and your energy supplier. Remember, a smoke detector is not a carbon monoxide detector.