The week aims to raise awareness and help spread the message on the dangers of carbon monoxide. Tens of people die from carbon monoxide poisoning every year, and thousands are harmed. But with a little lifesaving knowledge, exposure to carbon monoxide can be easily avoided. Often referred to as ‘The Silent Killer’, carbon monoxide (CO) is produced when fuel doesn’t burn properly from appliances such as boilers, cookers, log burners or open fires.
Carbon monoxide is associated with a range of health complications, including low birth weight in babies, brain damage and heart disease. However as it’s an odourless, tasteless gas many people could be being harmed without even knowing, as carbon monoxide cannot be detected by human senses. The only way to stay protected and alerted to levels of carbon monoxide is with an audible CO alarm.
Rising fuel poverty and the current cost of living crisis is placing households at an increased risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, as people are looking for any way possible to save on heating and cooking costs. Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week will highlight the new rules for carbon monoxide alarms in homes, show where to seek additional support, and explain how to recognise carbon monoxide poisoning.
If you live in rented accommodation, it is your landlord’s responsibility to provide a carbon monoxide alarm.
Since 1 October, landlords in England have been required to provide carbon monoxide alarms for all rooms in the home where there is a ‘fixed combustion appliance’; such as a fireplace or a boiler. The rules do not apply for gas cookers. Landlords must take into account the needs of any disabled tenants. Failure to comply can result in a £5,000 fine.
From 1 December, landlords in Wales will have to provide carbon monoxide alarms for all rooms in the home where there is a fuel burning appliance. Homes that need a smoke or a carbon monoxide alarm and do not have one are considered unfit for human habitation.
Since 1 February, homes in Scotland have been required to have carbon monoxide alarms in rooms with fuel burning appliances, except those used solely for cooking, under the new Tolerable Standard. Carbon monoxide alarms must carry the British Kitemark EN 50291-1 to ensure they are of a safe and reliable quality.
As well as getting your appliances and chimneys serviced annually by a GAS SAFE registered engineer, there are some simple, low cost things we can all do to stay safe at home this winter.
Mr Barry Sheerman MP says: “By making carbon monoxide alarms a legal requirement, governments are sending a strong message – carbon monoxide is seriously harmful. If you don’t have an alarm, you need to get one for your home as soon as possible. I urge everyone to join the Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week campaign to raise awareness of the risks of carbon monoxide and what can be done about it.”