Husband welcomes carbon monoxide decision

A Berkshire man whose wife died due to carbon monoxide poisoning has welcomed the new law requiring alarms in all new homes in Northern Ireland.

Richard Haines hopes the move could see carbon monoxide alarms made a legal requirement in Britain.

His wife, Katie Haines, 31, of Wokingham, drowned in the bath after breathing in carbon monoxide from a leaking boiler.

She died a month after returning from her honeymoon in 2010.

The new law in Northern Ireland follows the death of two teenagers also in 2010.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is difficult to detect because it is colourless and has no taste or smell.

Mr Haines, called for people to protect themselves, he said: “Smoke alarms are not compulsory but nearly everyone has one and people still think their smoke alarm can detect carbon monoxide.

“Even if you get your boiler serviced once a year of have a wood burner which you make sure is clean and swept you could be poisoned by next door.”

Since his wife’s death, he has set up the Katie Haines Memorial Trust.

The charity intends to raise awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide to vulnerable groups such as students, holidaymakers and the elderly.

Warning signs

It has funded 2,000 posters in all A&E wards, “to make doctors think when they see the symptoms”.

“It’s just not thought about – are your symptoms maintained when you leave your house? If you return and you’re feeling foggy again, there’s something going on in your house,” Mr Haines said.

Symptoms are often similar to common illnesses like flu and food poisoning.

A Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG ) spokesman said: “Our priority is to prevent exposure to carbon monoxide in the first place.

“Landlords are responsible for maintaining their properties, including the safety of gas and electrical appliances and must arrange for an annual maintenance check of gas pipe work, appliances and flues by an engineer registered with the Gas Safe Register.”

A study on the provision of carbon monoxide detectors for the DCLG concluded that installing CO detectors alongside new gas appliances (already incorporating secondary safety systems) gave low cost benefit.

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