Click here to print this page

Planning Retirement Online

Carbon Monoxide - a deadly threat          

                            February 2009


carbon monoxideAge Concern has sent us some details about the risks of poisoning from carbon monoxide. It makes very scary reading and we thought it well worth passing on what they had to say. The information was part of a plug for a deal they have done with energy suppliers E.ON and in case you might be interested, we have also included details of this at the bottom here.

The silent killer

It seems that every year more than 50 people in the UK die from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning and an additional 200 people are seriously injured each year.

Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous gas that has no taste, smell or colour. It is often referred to as the “silent killer” because there is no evidence of its presence. So until they started feeling ill, these people had no idea anything was wrong.

Most carbon monoxide poisoning appears to be the result of faulty household gas appliances. In the midst of a cold winter, many central heating systems are being cranked up to their maximum putting most strain on the equipment. There is a real risk of carbon monoxide from gas boilers and appliances that use gas or solid fuel such as furnaces, heaters and wood burning stoves if they have not been properly installed and regularly maintained.

Signs of carbon monoxide include staining, soot or discoloration on gas appliances. Symptoms of mild poisoning include nausea, muscle/head aches, light-headedness and flu-like effects; larger exposures can lead to significant toxicity of the central nervous system and even death.  It is important not to ignore these symptoms.  If you are in any way suspicious that either yourself or a relative may be experiencing symptoms, speak to a doctor quickly.

While anyone is susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning, experts agree that older people, unborn babies, small children and those with heart or respiratory problems are especially vulnerable to carbon monoxide and are at the greatest risk for death or serious injuries. 

Observing the following five steps will help protect you and your home:

  • carbon monoxide alarmInstall a carbon monoxide alarm. Ensure you get a British Standard approved alarm
  • Gas boilers, fires and water heaters should be serviced or checked once a year by a qualified engineer. Gas appliances can produce carbon monoxide if they aren't working correctly or the ventilation becomes blocked
  • Look for staining, soot or discoloration on the gas appliance
  • Gas boilers should burn with a blue flame, not an orange or yellow one.  Check that you have not blocked ventilators fitted into doors, windows or walls
  • Never attempt to service or repair a gas appliance yourself




Age Concern has teamed up with commercial energy suppliers E.ON to offer a special energy deal. You have to switch energy suppliers and sign up with them and in return you receive:

  • A guaranteed cold weather payment of £10 for all our gas and Dual Fuel customers‚ (£20 for those 80 or over). Gas customers over 60 may also receive an additional payment based on the number of days below 0 degrees Centigrade between December and February.
  • 8% discount for taking both fuels and paying by fixed monthly Direct Debit
  • Free customer service helpline that is answered by a person not a machine.
  • Clear and simple bills and a choice of payment options‚ including direct debit to help you budget
  • No standing charge‚ so you only pay for what you use.

Free welcome pack

Once you’ve joined‚ you’ll receive a welcome pack which includes:

  • 2 free low energy light bulbs to reduce the cost of lighting your home.
  • A free carbon monoxide alarm worth £20 giving an audible warning if the deadly gas is detected in the room.
  • A choice of free energy saving products
  • A hypothermia thermometer that will give you an early indication if the temperature in your home drops to a dangerous level

For more information on this, visit the Age Concern website:

or call 0800 015 6784.


Advertise on

LaterLife Travel Insurance in Association with Avanti