A campaign to encourage the take-up of carbon monoxide alarms has bought to the fore the tragic death of a ten year old boy, Dominic Rodgers from Huddersfield, who died in 2004 due to carbon monoxide poisoning, leaking from a faulty boiler in a neighbours properly.
Be Alarmed, www.co-bealarmed.co.uk is campaigning for all UK properties to have a CO alarm fitted, a simple and inexpensive piece of kit – just £15 – that could save lives. In addition, Gas Safe Registered installers should make their customers aware of the dangers, remind and encourage them to have their appliances checked annually.
CO – the facts
Each year, at least 4,000 people are treated in hospital for the effects of breathing in carbon monoxide and around 40 Britons die, according to the Department of Health. However, there is growing evidence that official figures for carbon monoxide deaths are too low: in France, which has a similar size population, around 100 carbon monoxide deaths are recorded during a 12 month period, making it the largest cause of death by accidental poisoning.
When carbon monoxide is breathed in, it displaces oxygen from the bloodstream. As a result, healthy tissue starts to die and the brain and heart can’t function properly. If just 0.5 per cent of the air we inhale is carbon monoxide, it can be fatal within a minute or two, according to the Health Protection Agency.
At lower doses it can cause long-term health complaints such as headaches or heart failure (because the lack of oxygen makes the heart work harder) – these often go unlinked to carbon monoxide and sometimes the symptoms may be confused with a viral infection – even by doctors.
The carbon monoxide that killed Dominic was thought to have built up to a fatal level in just one evening. After he died, his mother, Stacey threw herself into campaigning to warn other families. She now runs the Dominic Rodgers Trust, which campaigns to improve gas safety and raise awareness of carbon monoxide.
It is recommended that a CO alarm should be fitted in every room with a heating appliance that can emit carbon monoxide, though some people also put them in bedrooms. A recent survey found that 35 million Britons don’t have a carbon monoxide alarm at all…. Tell your customers about the dangers of CO poisoning, encourage them to get an alarm fitted, and remind them to have their appliances checked annually – this is the law in tenanted properties and the responsibility of the landlord.