A CHARITY is warning that pensioners could be at risk from the silent killer carbon monoxide poisoning over winter.

Age Concern Durham said that more than 50 people in England died last year after breathing fumes from faulty heating appliances.

Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous gas that has no taste, smell or colour.

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The charity said there was a risk from gas boilers and appliances that use gas or solid fuel such as furnaces, heaters and wood-burning stoves that have not been properly installed and maintained.

Signs of carbon monoxide include staining, soot or discoloration on gas appliances.

Symptoms of mild poisoning include muscles aches, nausea, headaches, lightheadedness and flu-like effects.

Miriam Wynd, of Age Concern, Durham, said: “Older people are amongst the groups most susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning, as they may have an old installation that may not have been recently serviced.

“It is really important to regularly service all household gas appliances to avoid deaths in the home as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.”

The charity recommends that people install a carbon monoxide alarm, have gas boilers, fires and water heaters checked annually by a Corgi-registered engineer, look for soot or discoloration and to make sure that the appliance is burning with a blue flame and ensure that ventilators are not blocked.

To find out more about Age Concern energy services, visit ageconcern.org.uk/energy ■ The Northern Echo campaigns to raise awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning through its Silent Killer campaign.