Is your nursery carbon monoxide safe?

Carbon monoxide alarm

You can’t see it. You can’t smell it. And you can’t feel it. Which begs the question, how do you make sure carbon monoxide isn’t endangering your employees and the children in your care?

Carbon monoxide poisoning doesn’t have the nickname ‘silent killer’ for no reason – official figures suggest there are 50 deaths from it a year.

So, let’s take a look at how you can spot it, prevent it, and keep your nursery business safe.

What causes carbon monoxide poisoning?

Carbon monoxide occurs when carbon-based fuels – like gas, oil, coal and wood – aren’t burnt properly. Boilers, cookers, water heaters and central heating systems are commonly used appliances that could cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

What are the signs?

Carbon monoxide might be colourless, odourless and tasteless, but there are still some tell-tale signs that your nursery could be at risk, like:

  • Flames are yellow or orange rather than blue;
  • There’s soot or yellow or brown staining on or around your appliances;
  • Your pilot lights (if you have them) frequently blow out; and/or
  • There’s an increasing level of condensation inside your windows.

What are the side effects?

In its early stages, common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • Headaches and/or dizziness
  • Breathlessness
  • Nausea
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Tiredness
  • Chest or stomach pains
  • Erratic behaviour
  • Visual impairment.

Early carbon monoxide symptoms are similar to that of food poisoning and flu, however, unlike these, carbon monoxide poisoning doesn’t cause high temperatures.

What should you do if you think an appliance is leaking carbon monoxide?

If you suspect you’ve got a carbon monoxide spillage, you should:

1. Call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999.

2. Turn the appliance off and switch off the gas supply at the meter control valve – and don’t turn it back on until remedial work’s been completed.

3. Ventilate the room(s) by opening all your doors and windows.

4. Make an appointment with your GP and let them know you may have been exposed to carbon monoxide – and encourage children’s parents to do the same, too.

How can you keep your nursery safe?

To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your nursery, make sure that any work carried out on your gas appliances is carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

In addition, you should have an audible carbon monoxide alarm – that’s installed by a competent person – to aid early detection. When it comes to carbon monoxide alarms, there are a few things to remember:

  • They’re by no means a substitute for proper installation and maintenance, they’re simply an important precaution;
  • Before purchasing your alarm, make sure it meets British Standard EN 50291’s standards; and
  • Check the manufacturer’s instructions and keep up with the maintenance instructions given.

The bigger picture

Carbon monoxide poisoning not only endangers your employees and the children in your care, but it puts your nursery’s name on the line.

Parents put their trust in you to keep their kids safe. Failure to do so could seriously affect your reputation, and result in existing and prospective parents taking their children elsewhere.

Keeping you safe – always

If you need a hand keeping your nursery business safe and legally sound, get in touch with our Health & Safety experts on  0345 844 1111 or

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