With nearly 70% of households in Northern Ireland using oil as their main heating source, OFTEC has issued important advice as part of Carbon Monoxide Awareness Month.

In particular, feedback from OFTEC’s technicians across Northern Ireland suggests that householders believe the risks only apply to gas-burning appliances. The organisation has thrown its weight behind the Health & Safety Executive of Northern Ireland (HSENI)’s ongoing awareness campaign.

OFTEC Ireland manager David Blevings explained: “Carbon monoxide is traditionally associated with gas appliances. We are concerned that the message isn’t getting through to householders using oil and other fuels. The message is simple: if you burn oil, coal, peat, wood or gas then you should take appropriate action.”

A key focus of the campaign is the annual servicing of fossil fuel-burning appliances, and OFTEC has issued advice specifically for oil householders.

“Oil consumers should always use an OFTEC registered technician,” Mr Blevings continued. “OFTEC technicians carry a flue gas analyser that can specifically check for carbon monoxide spillage. Householders booking an annual service should always look for the OFTEC logo for the reassurance that it includes analysis for this potentially deadly substance.”

Richard Meredith, principal inspector for the HSENI, added: “We are grateful to OFTEC in helping to raise awareness of carbon monoxide, which is often referred to as the ‘silent killer’ as you cannot see, smell or taste it. In addition, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are often difficult to diagnose, mimicking those of other common illnesses such as flu and headaches. The best way to protect yourself and others is to make sure any fuel-burning appliances are serviced by a registered engineer at least once a year.”

OFTEC advises that the annual servicing of appliances will also improve their efficiency, offering potential cost savings on energy bills and can also extend the life of the appliance by avoiding costly repairs and replacements.

Additional information is available at www.hseni.gov.uk/watchout or via the HSENI helpline on 0800 032 0121.