Carbon monoxide detectors can save your life

Issued by NHS Highland

NHS Highland and partners are urging members of the public to be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless gas with no smell or taste that can be released from poorly maintained, poorly ventilated or incorrectly fitted fossil fuel burning cookers, boilers or fires.

NHS Highland Director of Public Health, Margaret Somerville, said: “An exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

“This can be fatal in high doses and can be difficult to spot at first as the early symptoms can often be mistaken for mild flu like illnesses or even food poisoning.

“People may suffer from headaches and nausea before experiencing breathlessness, chest pains or even seizures.

“I would urge the public to ensure that fuel burning appliances in their homes are fitted and maintained by a regulated professional and would advise that carbon monoxide detector alarms are fitted if your home currently doesn’t have one.

“I would also encourage our staff who visit patient’s home, such as community nurses, to be extra vigilant about the installation of these detectors- particularly when visiting elderly and vulnerable people.”

Highland Council Housing Policy Officer, Brian Cameron, said they are pushing for all relevant housing to be fitted with this equipment. He said: “We install carbon monoxide detectors in Council houses when we install new heating systems.

“Although there is not a requirement for registered social landlords to fit detectors retrospectively; the issue will be raised at the next Housing and Property health and safety meeting.

“We also carry out checks on existing detectors as part of our gas servicing contract and when we inspect void properties. Raising awareness of this issue is extremely important.”

Raymond Finlayson from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, said: “When we carry out a Home Fire Safety Visit, we will identify any gas appliances in the home and check if a carbon monoxide detector has been fitted.
“If there is no CO detector, we recommend the householder buys and fits one, explaining the hazards of not having one.

“If a Telecare system has been installed for more vulnerable clients and there is a requirement; then a Telecare CO detector can be fitted.”

As part of our commitment to building a safer Scotland SFRS offers everyone in Scotland a free home fire safety visit. We can also fit smoke alarms free of charge if your home requires them.

It's easy to arrange and people can get in touch via the following options:


Detailed advice on investigations for CO poisoning can be obtained through TOXBASE or the National Pensions Information Service. You can follow advice on TOXBASE( or refer to the National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) on 0844 892 0111.

For gas safety information, go to To find a registered gas engineer, go to or freephone 0800 408 5500

30 Jan 2014