Confusion over ‘silent killer’

PUBLISHED: 12:28 31 October 2012

New research shows at least 35 million people are still at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

New research has revealed that at least 35 million people are still at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning.

In a survey for the Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed campaign, 81 per cent of people knew that carbon monoxide can kill.

However, only 39 per cent said they have a carbon monoxide alarm and of those without a carbon monoxide alarm, 42 per cent said this was because they have a smoke alarm, showing a high level of confusion between the two types of alarms.

Speaking on behalf of the campaign, TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp 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.”

She added: “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.”

Carbon monoxide has no colour, taste or smell, meaning installing an audible alarm, that sounds when carbon monoxide is present, is the only way to ensure a household is protected.

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

However, the figure is likely to be much higher than this, as carbon monoxide poisoning is very difficult to diagnose as symptoms are often similar to common illnesses like flu and food poisoning.

Carbon monoxide alarms have now been made complusory in new homes in Northern Ireland.


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