Be aware of silent killer

Fiona McLeod Carbon Monoxide Campaign.
Fiona McLeod Carbon Monoxide Campaign.

PEOPLE are being urged to protect themselves from carbon monoxide poisoning by getting an alarm in their home.

Bearsden MSP Fiona McLeod is backing a campaign aimed at increasing uptake of the detectors.

She said: “A lot of people don’t realise the risks posed by carbon monoxide poisoning. It can cause serious health problems, including brain damage – and it can kill you.

“The best way people can protect themselves is by getting an alarm – I’d urge them to go out and do it today.”

Risk

She spoke in the week that new research was released by the Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed! campaign revealing that 2.3 million Scots are at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning because they are not protected by an alarm.

Just over half of people in Scotland currently have one, but the study has also found that three in four people (75 per cent) are unaware that the gas can kill and only 16 per cent realise that it can cause brain damage.

Mrs McLeod met Ken and Kim Hansen who are on a week-long tour of the UK promoting carbon monoxide awareness.

Following the death of their 16-year-old daughter Amanda, poisoned when a faulty boiler produced the gas, the Hansens campaigned for ‘Amanda’s Law’, which was passed in New York State making carbon monoxide alarms compulsory in all homes. Two thirds of US states now also have similar laws in place.

Mr Hansen said: “On January 17, 2009, our life as we knew it came to an end. From that unimaginable day I’ve felt as if I am just living to die.

“We sit in our house now missing all the laughter and feeling of a family.

“It’s not a home anymore. It’s just a house.

“If the emptiness doesn’t kill me, the guilt for not keeping my baby safe will.”

Across the UK, at least 50 people died last year after being poisoned by carbon monoxide and 4,000 were treated in hospital – and many more victims go unrecognised because the early symptoms can easily be mistaken for tiredness, flu, food poisoning or even a hangover.

As carbon monoxide has no colour, taste or smell the only effective way to detect it is with an audible alarm.

Carbon monoxide is produced when fuels such as gas, oil, charcoal, coal and wood do not burn fully. The most common cause of this is when appliances such as a boiler or cooker is installed incorrectly or poorly maintained. Carbon monoxide can also build up when flues, chimneys or vents are blocked.

Alarms are available from many DIY stores, supermarkets, high street shops or directly from energy suppliers. They can cost as little as £15 and many retailers will be offering special discounts in support of the campaign.

For more information about how to stay safe, visit www.co-bealarmed.co.uk