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CO Poisoning On The Rise

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There has been a 10% rise in recorded incidents of suspected carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning at NHS Trusts across the UK:

2014/2015 – 2,220 incidents
2015/2016 – 2,430 incidents

That’s an average of 6 people attending A&E every day with suspected CO poisoning!

Young and elderly people were the most affected; cases of CO poisoning in children were up by 20% and cases among the over 60s had increased by 17%.

The data was obtained through Freedom of Information requests by campaign group Project SHOUT and measures the recorded incidents, year-on-year, from July 2014 to June 2016.

Rob Lyon, campaign director for Project SHOUT, said:

“These numbers are very concerning, particularly the rise in cases among the most vulnerable, namely children and the elderly. CO poisoning can only be detected by an alarm as you can’t see, smell or taste it. Children and older people are particularly at risk because their bodies are more susceptible and in the case of some older people, are less likely to keep their appliances serviced.”

Make sure your customers are alarmed!

Worryingly, with a lack of understanding around the symptoms of CO poisoning, and its similarity to the symptoms of flu, the figures obtained by Project SHOUT could be conservative.  The number of carbon monoxide fatalities each year is around 50, all of which can be prevented and domestic gas installers have a big part to play in this:

  1. Fit an alarm – Advise customers to fit carbon monoxide alarms in every room with a gas or solid fuel burning appliance.
  1. Make sure it’s properly tested – an investigation by Which? In October 2016 found that 1 in 5 CO alarms fail to work. Gas Safe Europe has developed a test kit to flag up crucial problems which would not be flagged by using the ‘test’ button, specifically with the alarm sensor which detects the deadly gas.  Test kits available from
  1. Know the warning signs – if a gas appliance is not working properly, it could indicate an urgent problem. Other things to look out for are a lazy yellow flame, black marks or stains, the pilot light going out or increased condensation in the room.
  1. Regular appliance checks! They can literally be lifesavers.

Check out our Gas Safety courses here.

To read more information about carbon monoxide poisoning and gas safety in the home, visit the Gas Safe Register website.

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