- Around 50 people in the UK die of CO poisoning every year
- CO alarms and landlord safety checks can save lives
Every year around 50 people die in the UK from CO poisoning, a further 200 are hospitalised and 4,000 visit hospital accident and emergency departments with the symptoms of CO poisoning. Many of the people affected by CO poisoning are students. With Freshers Week underway at university campuses across the North West, National Grid are urging students to take extra care when moving into university accommodation for the first time.
Recognising the symptoms of CO poisoning could save your life. They include headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, eventually leading to collapse and loss of consciousness. Take particular notice if these symptoms affect all or most of the people in the house or flat, if they improve when you're out of your house or flat but come back when you return, or if they're worse when you're cooking or when you turn up the heating.
Remember, you can't see or smell CO, so if you're even slightly worried that you may have CO poisoning, move into the fresh air immediately, and call 0800 111 999. This is the National Gas Emergency Helpline, which National Grid operates on behalf of the gas industry. If the symptoms are severe or if someone has collapsed or is unconscious, call 999 or 112 immediately.
Because they often live in rented accommodation where the heating and cooking equipment may be old and may have been misused, students are particularly at risk of CO poisoning, but there are laws to help reduce this risk.
Landlords of rented properties are legally required to provide their tenants with an annual gas safety certificate to confirm that a qualified gas fitter has carried out safety checks on all gas appliances in the property. Also by law, landlords have to make sure that gas appliances are properly maintained which, in most cases, means they must be serviced at least once a year.
Since it's hard to tell if CO is present in a house or flat - it's often called the silent killer - buying a CO detector is strongly recommended. They last about ten years, they're easy to take with you if you move home and they cost no more than twenty pounds. That's the price of a couple of rounds of drinks, which has to be something of a bargain for a gadget that could save your life! Ian Palfreyman, Head of Operations for National Grid's Gas Distribution Network in the North West said: It's very important that amid all the excitement of the new university term students don't neglect gas safety. Simple precautions like ensuring that the annual safety checks have been carried out in your accommodation and that it has a working CO detector can literally save your life.
He added: "And if you do think you smell gas or that there's a leak you should move into the fresh air immediately and dial 0800 111 999. It doesn't matter what time of day or night you ring there will be trained operators ready to assist you.
There's a lot more information about gas safety and CO poisoning on line. Check out www.gassaferegister.co.uk.