Private householders in England and Wales at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning

honeywellMore than half of all homeowners and private renters in England and Wales are leaving themselves vulnerable to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning by failing to have an alarm installed, a survey by YouGov for Honeywell has found.

While there is debate over the number of deaths linked to CO poisoning, the Department of Health estimates that each year in England and Wales there are approximately 4,000 visits to hospital accident and emergency departments that result from accidental CO poisoning – largely avoidable when a home is equipped with a properly working CO alarm.

Of the 2,882 respondents who acknowledged knowing what CO is, only 47% of those have CO alarms, and just 49% have regular servicing of their domestic appliances that can emit CO. In other words, more than half of homeowners and private renters are potentially vulnerable to this deadly gas.

The findings also revealed that although 88% of respondents agreed that they would not be able to tell by smell if there was a CO leak in a fuel-powered appliance in their home, less than half have a CO alarm.

“People are not protecting themselves even though they know the dangers of this killer gas,” said Andrew Thompson, vice president and general manager for Honeywell Analytics EMEA.

“If we are to avoid more tragic deaths, there needs to be greater public awareness of the importance of installing fully-accredited and tested CO alarms.”

Barry Sheerman is co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group, which is campaigning for CO alarms to be a mandatory requirement in UK homes.

He said:

“The number of homes with alarms may be higher in this survey than industry expectations, as it does not include public sector and social housing. But CO poisoning is a great danger and thousands of people are treated for it in hospital every year. We need CO alarms to be installed in all homes now, preferably by professionals who have a role to play in protecting the public.”

More than three-quarters of respondents said they would follow a tradesperson’s recommendation about which type of alarm to buy. Furthermore, 76% said they would buy one from an engineer servicing an appliance in their home, if he or she offered to fit it and the price was reasonable.

Faced with many cheap and unreliable imports, householders also overwhelmingly stressed the need for high quality, with 88% saying that whether an alarm had a Kitemark or certification to European standards would be an important factor in deciding what to purchase.

“I would urge any householders without CO protection to contact a Gas Safe Registered tradesperson and have a CO alarm with a Kitemark fitted immediately,” added Barry.