Carbon monoxide poisoning is easily preventable, yet every year it needlessly kills and injures people across the UK. To help change this, we need to make sure people know what to look out for and how to protect themselves.
As carbon monoxide has no smell, taste or colour, the most important way to do this is with a carbon monoxide alarm. Currently, however, only 1 in 10 households has one.
Until recently, I didn’t have a carbon monoxide alarm installed, but I am pleased to say that now my family is protected from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Click on the picture to enlarge and please feel free to share as it could save lives!
One of carbon monoxide campaigners Stacey Rodgers appeared on BBC Breakfast a few days ago to share her experiences – you can view the video here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20150955, along with a video on how to fit an alarm here: http://www.co-bealarmed.co.uk/how-to-fit-a-carbon-monoxide-alarm/
Millions still at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning
Despite 81% of people knowing that carbon monoxide can kill, just 4 in 10 (39%) say they have carbon monoxide alarms in their homes.
This figure is low, but research suggests the real figure may be even lower – with some studies putting the number of homes with alarms at just 1 in 10*.
As carbon monoxide has no taste, smell or colour, the only way to detect it is with an audible alarm, that sounds when the gas is present. The research also uncovered a concerning amount of confusion over which alarms to use – with 42% of those without carbon monoxide alarms saying this is because they have a smoke alarm in their homes.
* In a study, published by Liverpool John Moores University in May 2012, fire fighters conducted checks at 22,182 properties across Merseyside. 90.2% of the properties did not have carbon monoxide alarms.
Five steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning
- Fit a carbon monoxide alarm in your home that sounds when the gas is present. This will only take a few minutes and should be done in a central location in the house. The alarm can be fixed to the wall at head height or placed on a table, bookshelf or shelf. Further details are at: www.co-bealarmed.co.uk
- Have fuel-burning appliances serviced annually by a qualified and registered engineer.
- Don’t block ventilation and have chimneys swept at least once a year.
- Know the main symptoms: headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapsing and loss of consciousness. Keys signs are if symptoms clear up when you are away from home and come back when you return, or if other people in your household experience similar symptoms.
- Watch out for soot or yellow/brown staining on or around your appliance, a lazy yellow / orange coloured gas flame rather than a sharp blue one or pilot lights which blow out frequently.
About carbon monoxide
Carbon monoxide has no colour, taste or smell, meaning installing an audible alarm, that sounds when carbon monoxide is present, is the only way to ensure a household is protected. Carbon Monoxide alarms are a similar size to smoke alarms, and only take a few minutes to fit.
Carbon monoxide is produced when fuels such as gas, oil, charcoal, coal and wood do not burn completely. The most common cause of this is when an appliance, such as a boiler or cooker, is installed incorrectly or poorly maintained. Carbon monoxide can also build up when flues, chimneys or vents are blocked.
The Department of Health estimates that 50 people are killed by carbon monoxide poisoning, and at least 4,000 are treated in hospital, in the UK each year. However, the figure is likely to be much higher than this, as carbon monoxide poisoning is very difficult to diagnose as symptoms are often similar to common illnesses like flu and food poisoning.
About the campaign
Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed! is the national campaign to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by carbon monoxide. The campaign is run by Energy UK on behalf of Britain’s six major gas and electricity companies in partnership with the Dominic Rodgers Trust, and is supported by more than 40 other organisations.