Carbon monoxide detectors: what do they do, why do you need one, and which is the best available in the UK?

How a carbon monoxide detector can save lives, and the best UK model

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If you have any type of boiler, gas fire, open fire or wood burner installed in the home, make sure a carbon monoxide detector is close by. Carbon Monoxide (also known as CO) is an odourless, tasteless, invisible gas that forms as a result of inefficient combustion.

What is Carbon Monoxide poisoning?

CO is absolutely deadly if undetected very soon because it wisps around its victims like a ghost in some horror film, quickly hijacking the red blood cells that normally carry oxygen around the body.

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The result is oxygen starvation at the cellular level.

The effects of CO poisoning can come on so quickly that many people simply think they’re just feeling unwell – usually a headache with a feeling of grogginess – and have no idea that the only way to survive is to get out into the fresh air immediately.

There are no second chances – indeed many sufferers don’t even have the strength to get off the sofa. It’s so odourless that even dogs can’t detect it.

Thankfully CO poisoning is quite rare but you can completely avoid a tragedy by fitting a carbon monoxide alarm near any form of heater that has a naked flame and ensure that your boiler or heating source is regularly serviced by a qualified engineer.

CO alarms cost around the same as smoke alarms so there is no excuse to not have one.

Honeywell XC100D Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Honeywell XC100D Carbon Monoxide Alarm
4/5

Along with a smoke alarm, the CO detector is your next line of defence and one that shouldn’t be ignored if you have any appliance that creates a naked flame. The Honeywell XC100 is fitted with a sealed-in 10-year battery so, like most sealed battery detectors, you throw it away at the end of its life and buy a new one. In our test using burning incense in a closed container, this alarm performed remarkably well, even detecting the lowest levels of CO concentration. In the real world, when this thing registers CO, it lets you know with a series of loud beeps and, because it comes with an admittedly small liquid crystal display, you can see the results at a glance – before making a dash for the great outdoors.

If you’re looking for an excellent CO alarm that has also passed Which?’s rigorous tests, then this one comes highly recommended.

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