Moving away to university is likely to be the first time a young person has ever lived on their own and had to fend for themselves. If getting used to being away from home comforts and not knowing anyone there isn’t enough to contend with, there could also be an unknown silent killer lurking in their living accommodation – carbon monoxide.
Young people between the ages of 18 and 34 are less aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO), with many wrongly believing that CO emits a distinct smell. They are also confused about the key symptoms of CO poisoning to look out for1
and a recent study showed that 58% of students didn’t check if an alarm was installed when moving into their property (Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed, 2020).
To help raise vital awareness in this age group we are working with St John Ambulance to educate university students on how to make sure their homes are safe, and how they can spot the symptoms of CO poisoning quickly.
Launched in September during Freshers Week, St John Ambulance Student Volunteers ran awareness sessions for students and handed out free carbon monoxide alarms at university campuses across our network.
The sessions looked at the risks of CO and warned students not to confuse the potential deadly symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, including headaches, dizziness, nausea, and fatigue, for a hangover, or even ‘Fresher’s Flu’.
St John Ambulance will also be sharing content on their social channels, including Instagram and TikTok, and have been generating content including this short film where student volunteers tested freshers at Birmingham University on the symptoms of a hangover and CO
Following on from Freshers Week, St John Ambulance will continue to spread the message on the danger of CO with more activities planned digitally and on campus throughout the university year.
Funded by the Vulnerability and Carbon Monoxide Allowance
, the partnership will last for three years, the length of an average undergraduate journey, and during their time at university students will learn skills and develop habits that will stay with them for life. By educating these students about CO, they can help keep a generation safe – in halls, at home, and wherever their lives might take them.
Speaking about the partnership Cadent Safeguarding Specialist Emma Turnball
said “We’re delighted to launch the project ‘Championing Safe, Inclusive Student Communities’ with St John Ambulance. From previous research, we’ve found that the student population did not recognise the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and were unaware if they had a CO alarm in their accommodation.
"This project will educate one of the hardest-to-reach groups by incorporating the messaging into their first-aid training and raising awareness through multiple social media channels such as Tik Tok. By working together, we will save lives and bring students together."
Eva Szabo, Corporate Partnerships Executive a St John Ambulance
, said: "We're so proud to be working with Cadent for the next three years to help promote the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning amongst university students.
"For thousands of students across the country, starting university is often the first time many will be living away from home, and with that comes a whole host of new responsibilities and challenges to navigate – including safety and hidden dangers, like carbon monoxide poisoning.
"We hope by working together over the next few years to share our messaging with young people - through running CO awareness sessions at university campuses and by using other ways to reach students - we will help prevent avoidable illnesses and save more lives across the country."
If you know a young person who is at university make sure they are safe from the dangers of CO by educating them on the symptoms of CO poisoning and how to spot the signs of CO
1. Research from CO Be Alarmed! Shows students didn't recognise the symptoms of CO poisoning. Students were almost twice as likely to put symptoms, like dizziness, headaches, and nausea, down to a hangover (85%) or flu (84%) than CO poisoning (45%). Even food poisoning (51%) and pregnancy (46%) ranked higher.