Warning on ‘silent killer’

A campaign has started to alert Liverpool residents about the dangers of a ‘silent killer’ – carbon monoxide poisoning.

They are being advised of the importance of having annual gas safety checks by registered engineers.

The city’s Healthy Homes team has identified this issue as a priority after identifying and responding to 77 cases of potential carbon monoxide poisoning in the city in recent years.

And figures for the UK show that between 1995 and 2011 622 deaths were caused by CO poisoning. There were also 4148 incidents of non-fatal CO poisoning, 2188 of which required hospital treatment. It is also recognised that many cases are unreported and that these figures are likely to be higher.

Councillor Ann O’Byrne, cabinet member for housing, said: “These are shocking figures. They show the importance of people being aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and having their gas appliances properly checked every year.

“We are determined to cut the number of incidents in Liverpool and make our houses safe from this silent killer.”

Information about the dangers of carbon monoxide is being advertised and thermometers with awareness information are being distributed at community health events and the Winter Survival Roadshows.

Carbon monoxide can be produced in any fuel-burning appliance that is not properly fitted or maintained. This can include cookers, heaters, gas tumble dryers, hot water heaters and fireplaces.

Danger signs include yellow or orange flames where there should normally be blue ones and sooty stains on walls around fires and water heaters.

Anyone can be poisoned by carbon monoxide  however  children, the elderly, people with anaemia and those with heart or lung diseases are at particular risk, Pregnant women risk damage to their unborn child from carbon monoxide.

It is essential to have boilers and fossil fuel burning appliances regularly serviced by a registered engineer at least once a year. Flues should be checked to make sure they’re not blocked.

 Every home should have a British Standards Kite-marked audible CO alarm. However, installation of an alarm should not replace regular inspections and servicing of appliances and boilers by a registered engineer.