Last updated: 22/11/2019, 4:19 PM

Firefighters remind Londoners to have working carbon monoxide alarms

22/11/2019 15:15
Safety warnings

Firefighters are warning Londoners to make sure they have a life-saving carbon monoxide (CO) alarm in Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week and ensure they’re aware of the warning signs, symptoms and risks.

CO* is a highly poisonous gas, known as the silent killer as it is difficult to detect because you can’t taste, see or smell it.

Merton Borough Commander Lee Walker said: “Very few people are aware of what CO is and what it can do and only around 15% of people have a CO alarm whereas around 90% have a smoke alarm.

“CO alarms are the second line of defence – the first being that all carbon burning appliances, such as gas boilers and cookers, wood burners or open fires are regularly serviced and maintained by a registered engineer.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning

'The silent killer'

Our crews in Catford were called to a CO leak at a flat yesterday. Fortunately the resident had a CO alarm and called the Brigade. Borough Commander Walker continued: “This incident highlights the importance of having a working carbon monoxide alarm in your home. You can’t taste, see or smell CO fumes but it can kill in minutes.

“We want to educate as many people as we can about the dangers of the silent killer.”

If CO poisoning is suspected then leave the property immediately and seek medical help. Before returning home call the 24 hour Gas Emergency Number on 0800 111 999, who will be able to provide advice and support.

We've attended more than 890 carbon monoxide related incidents so far in 2019. The Brigade has previously partnered with Cadent and SGN to distribute CO alarms as part of two separate pilots. One of the pilots was the 'Fire, Safe and Well visits' pilot which ran from 2017 to September this year.


*CO is formed when there is not enough oxygen present to completely burn fossil fuels such as coal, gas, oil and wood. It can occur when appliances are faulty, not regularly serviced or if they are incorrectly fitted or used. It can also happen when flues and chimneys are blocked or poorly maintained. This toxic, dangerous gas can also seep through walls, floors and ceilings, travelling from one neighbouring property to another.