Danger signs to look out for around gas and other fuel-burning appliances include:

  • Sooting, yellow or brown staining on or around walls, ceiling or below the appliance.
  • Excessive condensation in the room where the appliance is installed.
  • Lazy yellow or orange coloured gas flame, rather than a sharp blue one Note: gas log fires have yellow flames for a decorative effect.
  • Pilot lights that frequently blow out.
  • Peeling paint above the appliance.
  • Sooting flecks on the ground and underneath appliance.


Knowing what to look out for is the first step in combating carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu. They include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Breathlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Visual problems
  • Pains in the chest or stomach
  • Disorientation
  • Erratic behaviour
  • Collapse
  • Loss of consciousness

How does carbon monoxide affect people?

Effects can vary considerably, depending on a person’s age, overall health, and the concentration and length of exposure. If inhaled at damaging levels, carbon monoxide can cause:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Impaired judgment and memory
  • Damage to the nervous system
  • Cardiac trauma
  • Brain damage
  • Coma
  • Death

Long-term effects caused by CO exposure

Luckily, effects produced by exposure to CO are mostly reversible. However, extensive and significant overexposure can cause permanent damage, and is most likely to occur in the nervous system. These effects can include:

  • Loss of memory
  • Rhabdomyolysis
  • Acute renal failure
  • Mental deterioration
  • Learning disabilities
  • Instability when walking