I like to think of myself as pretty clued up but it was only following coverage of the new regulations in Northern Ireland requiring all new-build houses to be fitted with a carbon monoxide detector, that I learned a couple of things that I didn't know. Now, I was a bit of a duffer in the sciences so please don't groan loudly and pull your hair out if I'm telling you something you already know. Oil-fired and solid fuel boilers can give off carbon monoxide. I thought it was just gas boilers. We all know about them. There have been enough tragedies in recent years for us to have no excuse not to know that, but I honest didn't realise that other types of boilers had the capacity to be just as dangerous.
Also, don't bring your barbeque indoors. Obvious too, but when we lived in France, every winter there were a handful of deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning. The houses are not generally central heated and, with the winters often being far colder than you would imagine, it wasn't unheard of for people to bring a barbeque in and light it for bit of extra warmth. But charcoal can also give off carbon dioxide making them lethal in confined spaces.
Carbon monoxide is a silent killer. It is odourless and colourless and, surprisingly nearly 20% of the British population don't even know that it can kill you. You would know nothing about it until you wake up dead, to quote a certain 80s heavy rock band. Symptoms include dizziness, nausea and tiredness so if you didn't go on a bender the night before, it's time to get your appliances checked. In a recent survey, 69% of houses didn't have a carbon monoxide detector and nearly half of people questioned didn't get their appliances checked annually.
It's a good move by the Government in Northern Ireland and one we'd do well to follow here but until it becomes law, you should make sure you are safe. You can pick one up for under £20 at your local stores or go online and visit this site. So if you have a gas or oil boiler, be alarmed and don't let the silent killer get you.