Make your home safe from carbon monoxide this festive season

As the country prepares for the festive season, Home maintenance and awareness of silent dangers such as carbon monoxide in the home, get forgotten. But this is something the CO Angels are eager to raise on everybody’s Christmas agenda.

Stacey Rodgers, Vikki Courtman and Melissa Matthews formed the awareness group CO Angels after each losing a loved one to carbon monoxide poisoning.

After launching in Parliament in 2010, their aim is to ensure the message of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning reach as many people as possible.

Carbon monoxide poses a real threat, with recent stats from the Department of Healthshowing that 50 people die each year from CO poisoning and another 4,000 are treated in hospital.

This poisonous gas is the result of fuel burning appliances which are not fitted correctly, are badly repaired or maintained such as fires, boilers, chimneys, gas cookers and water heaters. Gas, oil and solid fuels such as coal, coke and wood can all produce carbon monoxide.

Vikki Courtman’s boyfriend Bob died from the silent killer after poor maintenance work to his chimney. She said: “Losing someone to carbon monoxide poisoning changes your whole world.

“The most frustrating thing is knowing that something could have been done to prevent Bob’s death. The installation of an audible carbon monoxide alarm would have signalled the dangerous levels of CO in his Home and he would still be here today.”

Advice from the CO Angels this festive season:

1.            Buy and install an audible carbon monoxide alarm (you can buy these from any DIY store from around £12 – £25).

2.            Get your fuel burning appliances checked and maintained using a reputable engineer (use only Gas Safe Registered engineers for gas appliances and the National Association of Chimney Sweeps to search for a reputable chimney sweep)

Stacey Rodgers’ 10-year-old son Dominic died from carbon monoxide while sleeping in his bed. Stacey said: “That morning was the scariest thing I have been through; I didn’t know what had happened to Dominic. I was angry and blamed myself for his death.

“I didn’t know anything about carbon monoxide so I started to research it and within days realised this was something other people should know about.”

Know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning:

The signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to flu. It is likely someone from carbon monoxide poisoning will experience any combination of the following:

•             Headaches

•             Dizziness

•             Nausea

•             Breathlessness

•             Collapsing

•             Loss of consciousness

Also be aware of:

•             Symptoms improving when you leave home, but reoccur once back inside the property

•             Symptoms worsening in the winter when fuel burning heaters are used more frequently

•             Symptoms appearing or worsening when gas and other fuel burning appliances are in use

•             More than one person in your household (including your pets) experiencing similar symptoms

If you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical advice.

Melissa Matthews, whose brother died from carbon monoxide poisoning, said:

“The one thing on all of our Christmas wish lists this year is that as many people as possible hear our message to protect themselves and their families against this silent killer.

“Sadly Stacey, Vikki and I know first hand how it feels to lose a loved one to carbon monoxide poisoning and because of this we are urging others, especially at this time of year, to remember to make sure their homes are safe from this silent killer.”

Nick Rutter, managing director of Sprue Safety Products, manufacturer of the FireAngel range of carbon monoxide alarms and supporters of the CO Angels’ awareness campaigns, added: “Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous gas that has no colour, taste or smell, so it is totally invisible to the human senses. Because the gas is so difficult to detect and the symptoms (such as headaches) so common to other complaints, many people can be poisoned without knowing it.

“With the cold winter weather upon us many will be firing up their heating systems and lighting fires to create a cosy Christmas atmosphere, but if boilers have not been serviced or chimneys and flues have been left unchecked, people can be putting themselves at risk of CO poisoning.

“Everyone needs to be aware of the dangers so they can stay safe.”


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