Despite the Scottish Government introducing new legislative changes in 2022 that required all homes to have interlinked smoke and heat alarms (including private and socially rented properties) supported by a carbon monoxide alarm, Age Scotland’s Taking the Temperature report discovered this is not the case.
The report, published in 2022, found one in 10 Scottish people over 50 do not have a working carbon monoxide alarm installed despite 94% of those surveyed being aware that carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can be deadly.
A further 25% of respondents had not yet been able to install interlinked fire and smoke alarms in their homes following the national deadline. Of those who did not have interlinked alarms installed in their homes at the time of the survey, 41% had no intention to have them installed within the next six months.
Cost was cited as the primary reason (54%) for this decision, with 27% unaware of what support was available to them for this purpose. However, some care and repair services can fit interlinked fire and smoke alarms for free to older and disabled households on low incomes.
Care and Repair Edinburgh, part of the Age Scotland family, will supply and fit interlinked alarms, worth up to £270, at no charge for Edinburgh pensioners on low incomes who fit certain criteria.
Age Scotland’s report, conducted in partnership with SGN, captured the views and experiences of more than 1,000 over-50s in Scotland. The nationwide survey sought to understand more about their energy usage, experience of paying these bills, relationships with energy suppliers, awareness of energy efficiency support and issues surrounding energy safety, such as the recent requirement to install interlinked fire and smoke alarms.
Speaking on the survey results, Age Scotland’s interim chief Executive, Michelle Supple, said: “Good home safety standards are vital, and it’s concerning to hear that so many older people in Scotland do not have a carbon monoxide alarm in their home.
“If you have a carbon-fuelled device, ensuring you have an alarm installed is a simple but vital step to take to ensure you stay safe. Carbon monoxide is a dangerous silent killer, but these alarms save lives.
“Many older homeowners have also voiced concerns over the affordability and cost of interlinked fire and smoke alarms, as well as where to access support to install them.
“With 34% of our survey respondents also unaware of current requirements regarding interlinked fire and smoke alarms, it’s clear there is still a long way to go – both in terms of awareness and uptake – to ensure all households affected by the significant change are able to meet these requirements.”
Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous gas often referred to as a silent killer, and thousands of people are harmed by it every year. Homes with a carbon fuelled appliance, such as a gas boiler or coal fire, should have a CO detector installed.
Age Scotland is urging older people who do not have a CO alarm installed but have a carbon fuelled or gas appliance in their home to get a detector as soon as possible and to test it regularly.