We live in a rented bungalow (some of our neighbours call them villas but that is trying to make them sound less seventies and more modern). Back in November, when I entered the house through the back door, several times the air felt foggy and hurt my head. I thought that it was potentially due to the tumble dryer running down that end and would open the windows to let in air.
I had headaches and often felt better when out of the house. A few times I smelt a whiff of gas, it would then go and I put it down to my imagination. Our youngest has his bedroom down that end of the house, next to the kitchen and utility room (where the boiler is) and when new legislation came in for landlords to have carbon monoxide alarms in houses with gas fires, I rang our lettings agency to ask for one, due to the fact that S sleeps next door to that room (even though we don’t have a gas fire).
Mid December, someone came to fit the alarm for us. One week later and the alarm went off. Saturday night, we were watching tv and heard this very loud beeping, when we got down there we rang the gas board who answered immediately.
We had to open all the doors and windows in the house and shut down the gas from the mains lever. First question, have any of you had sore eyes (yes, my 4 year old had been complaining that week of sore eyes), plus headaches (I had been having headaches for weeks before the alarm went off.
A man from the gas board arrived within an hour, he fired up the boiler and his carbon monoxide alarm started bleeping straight away. He shut down the gas and we were not allowed to use the boiler or the gas hob until a plumber came out.
The following week (luckily we were away for a week over Christmas) a plumber came out and deemed the boiler totally unsafe. The alarm had without a doubt saved little S from carbon monoxide poisoning which would have potentially proved to be fatal. The man from the gas board said that due to the nature of carbon monoxide (e.g. no smell), it is a silent killer and young babies and children are most at risk due to the size of their lungs.
Since this has happened, I have spoken to lots of people about the scare. About 50% have got a carbon monoxide alarm at home and 50% don’t (everyone had a fire alarm). The alarms cost about £25 and are worth every single penny. My intuition that that air was not right in the house, prompted me to get an alarm, our landlords cannot believe how lucky we have been.
Boilers are checked yearly by gas safety teams in rented properties, yet they can still go wrong within the following year. New boilers (we had one fitted this week) have valves and alarms to shut them down if they start leaking, but they are not fool proof. If you don’t have one already and you have gas of any kind in your house, buy an alarm.