Action launched over ‘silent killer’

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Fumes © Wikipedia

Fumes © Wikipedia

Liverpool’s Healthy Homes team has launched a campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of carbon monoxide.

The issue has been raised as a priority for the team, which has identified and responded to 77 cases of potential carbon monoxide poisoning in Liverpool in recent years.

Figures for the UK show that between 1995 and 2011, 622 deaths were caused by CO poisoning, with a further 4,148 incidents of non-fatal CO poisoning – over half of which required hospital treatment.

Councilor Ann O’Byrne, cabinet member for housing, said: “These are shocking figures. They show the importance of people being aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and having their gas appliances properly checked every year.

“We are determined to cut the number of incidents in Liverpool and make our houses safe from this silent killer.”

Information about the dangers of carbon monoxide is being advertised and thermometers with awareness information are being distributed at community health events and the Winter Survival Roadshows.

Lynn Griffiths, founder of Liverpool based charity CO Awareness, set up the organisation eight years ago after her and her family were poisoned by carbon monoxide.

She told JMU Journalism: “I believe awareness is key to preventing deaths and injuries from carbon monoxide, possibly more in the autumn/winter because everyone turns on their heating appliances. However, I do believe it’s a problem all through the year as barbecues, boats and holidays are a big worry.”

Carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete combustion of any hydrocarbon fuel – coal, charcoal, wood, oil, petrol, diesel, natural gas and liquid petroleum gas (LPG).

CO poisoning initial symptoms

Dizziness & nausea
Tiredness & confusion
Stomach pain
Shortness of breath & difficulty breathing

High CO levels can cause severe symptoms including:
heart attack, seizures, loss of consciousness and death.

The mother-of-four launched the eighth annual National Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week last Monday at the House of Lords.

She said: “It is shocking that despite living in the ‘information age’ people still don’t realise that carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, highly toxic gas that can kill in under three minutes.”

Lynn’s advice on how to avoid CO poisoning is to make sure the family is aware of the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, to ensure all hydrocarbon fuel burn appliances (fire, cooker and boiler) are serviced every year, have your chimney swept once or twice a year and fit a carbon monoxide alarm in the correct place.

For further information on the dangers of CO, visit the CO Awareness website here.

About Aimée Hamilton, JMU Journalism