CO poisoning warning from The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering

An industry group is warning it poses a potentially lethal threat in Notts, particularly at this time of year. As cold weather returns, families are turning on gas heating systems or using fossil fuel appliances for the first time in months. The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering says if appliances have not been properly checked, warming up could prove fatal. One family which knows the risks are the Leys, of Bestwood Park. In September 2008 carbon monoxide filled their home after they lit a smokeless coal fire in the living room. They had no idea the chimney above the fire had become blocked with soot. Mum Sue fell unconscious on the sofa and her sons Michael and Anthony, then 11, passed out upstairs. The family were saved by daughter Katie, then 16, who was still conscious in her bedroom. She heard pet doberman Christie whimpering and raised the alarm. Mrs Ley said: “I didn’t think it could happen to us because I didn’t really know anything about it. It was frightening.” She recovered after being taken to hospital in Hull for specialist treatment. Michael, Anthony and Katie were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning at the Queen’s Medical Centre. Christie was given oxygen and recovered. Mrs Ley added: “I had the chimney swept every year but we realised after it had happened that, with the water from a lot of rain, soot had got clogged up there. “We hadn’t used it all summer. Then as it got cold again before we started lighting it soot had come away from the walls and blocked it. “Now I have the chimney cleaned more often and we have a carbon monoxide monitor. We were very lucky – if Katie had not come downstairs we wouldn’t be here. I’d urge everyone to get a monitor, to make sure chimneys are swept and appliances checked.” Some people are not so lucky. Graduate Trevor Leighton, 25, and his student brother Alan, 22, died when they were overcome by fumes at the Mapperley flat they rented. Their landlord was convicted on two health and safety charges in January 1995, following their deaths in 1992. He was fined £32,000 with £24,861 costs. Police found the bodies at their Sandford Road home and investigations were launched by British Gas, detectives and health and safety officers. Kevin Wellman, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering, warned anyone who does not get their appliances serviced annually is taking a risk. He said: “Some may think it’s an unnecessary expense, but if problems develop it could seriously affect their health, or cost them their life.” Checks should only be carried out by qualified engineers on the Gas Safe register. Gas Safe, a charity working to reduce deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning, says gas appliances should have a safety check every year and a regular service. Gas Safe-registered engineer Philip Dalley runs PMD Plumbing and Heating, West Bridgford. He said: “I come across leaks and problems all the time, especially when checking older houses and appliances. If there’s any risk it has to be turned off – it’s about the health and safety of the public.”

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