Carbon Monoxide Week 2015 – 16-22 November 2015 – is enough being done to eradicate the Silent Killer which seems to loom almost everywhere?
Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week is an annual event intended to raise awareness about the dangers of Carbon Monoxide.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can be caused by many things including household appliances, such as gas fires, boilers, central heating systems, water heaters, cookers and open fires which use gas, oil, coal and wood. All of these appliances are possible sources of CO gas if the fuel does not burn fully. Because we can’t smell, taste or see carbon monoxide poisoning, it can kill without anyone even noticing.
Carbon Monoxide cases are frequently in the news. Amongst others, over the course of the year, it has been reported that:
- Every year in the UK, the NHS claims over 200 people go to hospital with suspected carbon monoxide poisoning, which leads to around 40 deaths. In addition there are thought to be many missed cases where a diagnosis is not made as people have not been aware there symptoms have been caused by CO.
- Over the past year, it has been reported that 1 in 10 Scottish adults suffer carbon monoxide poisoning in their home, according to research conducted with 2000 UK homeowners.
- After a US study, it was reported that people who live within six miles [of an airport] have higher levels of asthma and heart problems, which has suggested exposure to carbon monoxide from planes may impact on health.
- The potential for carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in homes using solid and multi-fuel stoves is being highlighted by OFTEC, after what it describes as “an increasing number of incidents across Northern Ireland this year. Following a rise in the sale of stoves in recent years, the association said that many people do not realise the connection between CO and fossil fuels.
- The skipper of a fishing boat featured in the BBC television series Trawlermen was fined £20,000 after entering a guilty plea in the on board death of one of his crew. The crewman died having never regained consciousness, and the cause of death was recorded as carbon monoxide poisoning.
- A pensioner couple were found dead in their bed and police have been investigating whether the pair died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning, with neighbours claiming the odourless gas may have leaked from their heating system.
- A young mother died during her first night in her new home after being overcome by carbon monoxide from a faulty fireplace. Kimberley Jones, 25, suffocated while sleeping on a makeshift bed in the living room of the property in Cwmbach, near Aberdare, which she was in the process of decorating.
Gavin Evans of Simpson Millar commented: “Legislation introduced in October now makes CO alarms mandatory in all rented properties, which is widely welcomed, however, this will only target a small portion of the housing sector in UK and only targets one source of CO leaving other sources and other housing situations unregulated and vulnerable. This is a tiny step in a mammoth journey which is needed to have a real impact on reducing the number of unnecessary deaths and exposures. CO kills and further legislation which reaches the other sectors of the population and sources of CO is needed to make impact on the drive to prevent any further unnecessary deaths and exposures.”
To provide guidance to UK citizens on this very important subject, to follow is further commentary provided by Gavin Evans:
“Landlords need to be aware that as of 1 October this year, the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 come into force, introducing new safety standards in residential properties when it comes to preventing death by carbon monoxide poisoning. The new regulations entirely change the obligations on landlords with respect to detecting carbon monoxide and it is hoped this new responsibility might also impress upon those letting properties the importance of ensuring they are habitable and safe. Landlords need to be aware of these new regulations for the safety of their tenants. A breach of the guidance could have disastrous consequences so all steps should be taken to ensure no-one is put at any risk.”
For further information on CO poisoning, you can visit the Simpson Millar website here