OFTEC, the trade body for the oil-fired heating industry, has recently stressed the importance of boiler maintenance before the winter months set in to avoid the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning.A 2012 report by the Gas Safety Trust, showed that oil-fired heating in domestic use is very safe, but stressed that all fossil fuels have the potential to release carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete burning of fuels, and all fuel burning appliances have the potential to produce the deadly gas. It is a clear, odourless gas that is responsible for 50 deaths and 4000 hospital admissions in the UK every year.Malcolm Farrow of OFTEC said: “The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is significantly lower with oil-fired central heating but consumers should not be complacent.” A simple carbon monoxide tester will quash any fears that you may have. Carbon monoxide testers should be considered as important as smoke alarms and are available from all DIY outlets. A carbon monoxide alarm twin pack will cost approximately £45. Areas where you should consider putting a detector include near the boiler and any additional boiler such as in the garage, the kitchen cooker and the living room. Remember that most carbon monoxide detectors are portable so you can also take them to holiday accommodation.OFTEC recommend that customers use an OFTEC registered engineer to carry out annual maintenance on their boilers. At Northern Energy, we can arrange your boiler service for you - all our engineers are fully qualified and registered with OFTEC. We can also provide a number of additional benefits, including Emergency Boiler Breakdown Cover.Anyone can be affected by carbon monoxide poisoning, with symptoms including dizziness, tiredness and headaches. The poisonous gas can cause long term damage to your health and has the potential to kill very quickly.