Wimbledon father of Oxford University press officer calls for ‘silent killer’ alarms

The family of a newlywed woman who died due to carbon monoxide poisoning has urged homeowners to install alarms against the “silent killer” gas.

Katie Haines died a month after returning from her honeymoon in 2010 when carbon monoxide from a faulty boiler made her lose consciousness, knock her head and drown in a bath.

Her loved ones today called for families to protect themselves as new research revealed many people wrongly believe their fire alarm protects them against the gas.

Their plea comes as a new law has made carbon monoxide alarms compulsory in Northern Ireland following the death of two teenagers in 2010.

Gordon Samuel, Mrs Haines’s father, described his daughter as “beautiful, talented and extremely intelligent” and said the gas killed her at the happiest time of her life.

Mr Samuel, 61, from Wimbledon, south London, said: “I can’t even articulate what it was like for us to lose our daughter in this way. It is totally unnatural for a child to go before their parents.

“That is why we are encouraging people to to save their own lives and would like to see carbon monoxide alarms become as common in every home as smoke alarms.

“Smoke alarms are not compulsory but you would be foolish not to have one. The same should be said about carbon monoxide alarms.”

Mrs Haines was a graduate of Manchester University who worked as a journalist before becoming a press officer for the University of Oxford.

She was found dead at her home in Wokingham, Berkshire, in February 2010 by husband Richard Haines, weeks after the couple returned from their honeymoon in Argentina and Brazil.

The Katie Haines Memorial Trust, run by her family, recently launched a video campaign on YouTube to warn of the need for audible alarms to detect the invisible, odourless gas.

Trade association Energy UK is today publishing research which found that many people mistakenly believe their smoke alarm will detect carbon monoxide.

The Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed campaign said 35 million people are still at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning.

A survey conducted by the campaign discovered that 42% of those who do not have a carbon monoxide alarm said this was because they have a smoke alarm, indicating confusion between the two.

TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp, who is spearheading the campaign, said: “The message that carbon monoxide is dangerous seems to be getting through but it is horrifying to think that there still are millions of people who are not protecting themselves or think they are protected when they’re not.

“Carbon monoxide can kill you without any warning. Please make sure you have an audible carbon monoxide alarm.

“Even if you think you’ve got one, check that it is for carbon monoxide and that it works.”

The Department of Health believes that 50 people are killed by carbon monoxide poisoning and at least 4,000 are treated in hospital in the UK each year.

But due to the difficulty in diagnosing poisoning by the gas, the figure is likely to be much higher.

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

Today it was announced that carbon monoxide alarms have become a legal requirement in all new homes in Northern Ireland.

The new law follows the deaths of teenagers Neil McFerran and Aaron Davidson after a gas leak in a holiday apartment in Castlerock, Co Londonderry, in August 2010.

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