London Fire Brigade

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can kill. Although you cannot see, taste or smell the gas, symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Tiredness
  • Confusion
  • Breathlessness
  • Stomach pain
  • Collapse
  • A loss of consciousness

If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning or if your CO alarm sounds get some fresh air immediately. Open doors and windows, if possible, and leave the building. You should seek medical attention immediately and explain your symptoms may be related to carbon monoxide poisoning. 

If you suspect there is a carbon monoxide leak in your building, call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999.

If you think someone's life may be in immediate danger call us on 999.

Where does carbon monoxide come from?

Carbon monoxide can come from a variety of different places in your home including candles, gas fires, boilers, gas or wood burners, water heaters, and ovens. It can also seep through walls and come from neighbouring properties.

You can prevent carbon monoxide poisoning by taking a few simple steps.

Use a registered engineer to install and inspect gas appliances

Incorrectly fitted, badly repaired or poorly maintained gas appliances are one of the main causes of carbon monoxide poisoning in the home.

We recommend getting gas appliances checked annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Landlords must complete a gas safety inspection every year on each of their properties

Keep chimneys and vents free from blockages

Although many people associate carbon monoxide poisoning with gas appliances, the highly poisonous substance is also produced when fuel is burnt, such as on an open fire.

Ensure your chimney and airbricks are not blocked otherwise carbon monoxide can seep into your home instead of being expelled. This can also cause carbon monoxide to seep into your neighbour's property.

Common causes of blockages include debris from repairs or renovations, birds nests, leaves or excess soot.

Always have your chimney swept by a specialist at least once a year if burning coal and twice a year if burning logs. 

Install a carbon monoxide alarm

If you live in a property that has gas appliances such as cookers, heaters and gas fires or solid fuel-burning appliances, such as a wood burner or coal fire, you should install a carbon monoxide alarm.

Carbon monoxide alarms should be placed in the rooms where the fuel-burning appliance is e.g. the kitchen or lounge.

These alarms are different to smoke alarms. A standard smoke alarm will not detect carbon monoxide, however, you can buy dual smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

When buying a carbon monoxide alarm ensure it meets current British or European safety standards and carries the appropriate safety mark - EN 50291 and CE - on the product and packaging.

Landlords of privately rented accommodation must legally install one carbon monoxide alarm in each room that contains a gas or solid fuel-burning appliance.

Free-standing carbon monoxide alarms can be moved and even taken with you when you on holiday.

Never use a barbecue indoors

Once lit, never take a purpose-built or disposable barbecue into a confined space such as a garage, tent, caravan, vehicle or building.

Barbecues continue to give off carbon monoxide until completely cooled. Always leave them to go cold, swilling with water if possible, before disposing of them appropriately.

Book a Home Fire Safety Visit

Our firefighters will visit you in your home and offer you bespoke advice tailored to your property to help keep you safer. You may also be eligible to have free smoke alarms fitted.



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