carbon monoxide poisoning

Day 2 of ‘Chimney Fire Safety Week’ – carbon monoxide awareness

Today is day 2 of Chimney Fire Safety Week and appropriate, as a Tuesday that we reinforce ‘Test it Tuesday’ with news around carbon monoxide awareness…

The Chimney Fire Safety Week campaign aims to ensure that anyone who owns or uses a chimney, be it attached to a wood burning stove, open fire, Aga or other type of Range cooker, is aware of the need to have the chimney swept at least once a year. However tragedy can strike two ways with a blocked chimney, firstly the deposits that build up inside the flue can catch fire but secondly a blocked chimney can cause Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

‘The Silent Killer’ Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an odourless, tasteless and colourless toxic gas which is produced by incomplete combustion of fossil fuels used in central heating systems, gas appliances and fires. CO can be emitted from any appliance burning combustible fuel, e.g. gas (mains or bottled), solid fuel (coal, wood, etc), petrol, oil or paraffin etc.

At the start of this Chimney Fire Safety Week we wanted to bring to our customers’ attention the dangers of CO poisoning through an un-swept chimney and have this week adopted the Katie Haines Memorial Trust as our charity of the year for the next 12 months.

Katie Haines (nee Samuel) was born on 31 January 1979.  She was the daughter of Gordon and Avril Samuel and married Richard Haines on 12 December 2009. On 18 February 2010, just two months after her wedding, she died tragically of accidental Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning at her home.  The Katie Haines Memorial Trust was founded in 2010 by Katie’s husband Richard and her family to promote awareness of the dangers of Carbon Monoxide.

Wilkins Chimney Sweep’s franchise director Louise Harris went to visit Katie’s mother Avril at her home in Gloucestershire and asked her to contribute to today’s blog.

Avril says,

‘We exist because of a tragic accident.  Our work is inspired by the life of the person we lost.  Our mission is to raise awareness about the dangers of carbon monoxide and to prevent unnecessary loss of life.  We are run by a committed group of individuals but rely on the help of other people to ensure the dangers of carbon monoxide are prominent in people’s minds – most notably the vulnerable groups in society such as the elderly and university students living in low cost accommodation.

Our vision is that everyone in the UK understands the dangers of carbon monoxide and takes preventative measures to make sure that they do not fall victim to it, such as buying an audible alarm, having burning appliances checked regularly and taking an alarm when travelling away from home, and of course testing that alarm weekly to make sure it’s working.

We are in close contact with the All-party Parliamentary Monoxide Group and on the 3rd October 2017, the Government will meet to review the smoke and CO alarm regulations. This presents an opportunity for harmonisation of regulation across the nations of the UK and we very much hope for some positive changes.[/ezcol_2third_end]

We are delighted that Wilkins Chimney Sweep have adopted us as their charity of the year, helping to spread the word about Carbon Monoxide poisoning; word of mouth is sometimes just as important and we are grateful that the Wilkins Chimney Sweeps will be encouraging their customers to get a CO alarm where they can see they don’t have one.

Below is a full list of do’s and don’ts regarding CO poisoning but here are a few points we’d like to add that don’t always make it onto the regular lists;

  1. At the current moment landlords in the private sector in Scotland must provide CO alarms to all their properties with a fuel burning appliance. However, in England, they only need to provide alarms for rooms with a solid-fuel burning appliance. If you or a member of your family is travelling or living away from home, make sure they have their own Carbon Monoxide detector with them to keep them safe.
  2. Carbon Monoxide can travel through the walls of a property. Even if you have had your appliances swept, next door may not have. An alarm is the ONLY way you will know.
  3. Carbon Monoxide alarm batteries don’t last forever – check how long yours is good for!

We would like to thank Wilkins again for adopting us as their charity of the year and hope that working together we can reduce the number of deaths in the UK from Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

Avril Samuel

Katie Haines Memorial Trust

Taken from the ‘Chimney Fire Safety’ website, here are the steps you need to protect yourself from CO poisoning

  • Have your appliance serviced and cleaned regularly by a trained and registered professional
  • Ensure your chimney is kept clear by having it swept at frequent intervals by an Approved/Registered Chimney Sweep
  • Make sure the installation complies with Building Regulations guidance. The guidance is there to protect you.
  • Fit an audible CO alarm conforming to BS EN 50291 and positioned in accordance with Building Regulations.
  • Ensure your gas appliances are installed and serviced by a Gas Safe Registered engineer
  • Carbon monoxide alarms should be regularly tested and should not be regarded as a substitute for regular maintenance of the appliance and chimney. #TestItTuesday

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

The early symptoms of CO poisoning are usually similar to common ailments such as upset stomach, tiredness and flu.

  • The common symptoms can include:
  • Headaches
  • Breathlessness
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Dizziness or Collapse
  • Chest and/or stomach pains
  • Erratic behaviour and/or Visual problems

Actions to take in a CO emergency

  • If you suspect fumes are escaping from your combustion appliance into your home, or your carbon monoxide alarm goes off.
  • Turn the appliance off.
  • Open doors and windows to ventilate the building.
  • Leave the building immediately and don’t return until your appliance or boiler has extinguished and the air in the room is clear.
  • If you feel unwell go to your Doctor, or call one of the following:
    • Call NHS Direct on 111 (in England)
    • NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 (in Wales)
    • NHS 24 on 111 (in Scotland)

Landlords: Guidance on The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 can be viewed at:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/smoke-and-carbon-monoxide-alarms-explanatory-booklet-for-landlords

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Wilkins Chimney Sweep
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