Beware of fake CO alarms

Published: Wednesday, 27 June 2018

FAKE carbon monoxide alarms are being offered on the internet, that do not work.

These fake alarms have come on to the market through internet sites over the past month, but the Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) is warning against them as they do not work.

No warning sound

This means that when carbon monoxide is present and there is no warning sound the results can of course be fatal as the gas can fill a boat in minutes, and as it is both tasteless and colourless it can quickly affect those inside.

To overcome boaters installing these useless alarms the BSS has teamed up with the CoGDEM (Council of Gas Detection & Environment Monitoring) to urge boaters to choose one from the list of CO alarms suitable for boats as recommended by the makers of independently certified products—the list can be found on the home page of the BSS website that is given at the end of this article.

Essential safety equipment

Incident reports collected by the BSS show that properly certified CO alarms have repeatedly protected boaters from the hidden dangers of CO and ought to be regarded as part of the boat’s essential safety equipment.

The advice is to buy alarms that have been independently tested and certified by British Standards Institution (BSI), look for the Kitemark on the alarm or packaging or the Loss Prevention Certification Board, look for the LPCB Certification Mark.

CO alarms certified to BS EN 50291-2 are the best choice for boats, but if you have a CO alarm, BSI or LPCB certified to BS EN 50291, or 50291-1, CoGDEM’s advice is to keep it, test it routinely and when it needs replacing, choose a unit certified to BS EN 50291-2.

Very concerning

BSS Manager, Graham Watts warns:

"Reports of new alarms, not working out of the box, is very concerning, so our advice to anyone worried that they have bought a non-functioning alarm for their boat, is to reassure themselves by looking for the Kitemark or LPCB Certification Mark.

"There’s no substitute for the good installation, regular maintenance and correct use of fuel burning appliances and engine systems, but if despite these steps, CO still occurs, boaters can have confidence in independently certified alarms protecting them and their fellow crew members."

CO is produced when carbon-based appliance and engine fuels, such as gas, LPG, coal, wood, paraffin, oil, petrol and diesel don't burn completely.

The silent killer

As It cannot be seen, smelt, tasted, or felt, that's why it's known as the silent killer!

When you breathe in CO, it replaces the oxygen in your bloodstream, preventing essential supplies to your body tissues, heart, brain and other vital organs.

Survivors of severe CO poisoning may be left with severe long-term neurological problems, with disturbances in memory, language, cognition, mood and behaviour, as can some people exposed to lower, non-lethal concentrations of the toxic gas.

Alarms not only warn people about immediately dangerous amounts of CO, they can alert people to the presence of the lower, but still health affecting, levels.

More information about staying safe from CO on boats is available at