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Are UK Households Ignorant to Carbon Monoxide Risk?

By Katie Anderson on June 22, 2011

Research carried out by npower Hometeam has revealed that at least 22 million households in the UK are failing to take seriously the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, some 20 people in the UK die every year as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning. Hundreds others suffer serious injury or illness.

Despite the obvious threat of carbon monoxide poisoning, Hometeam’s research, which canvassed the opinions of 2,000 people, found that 83 per cent of respondents who owned gas fires failed to have them regularly serviced. More than 66 per cent of respondents admitted neglecting safety checks on other gas appliances, such as central heating boilers and cookers.

The survey also revealed that just 50 per cent of respondents ensure boilers receive an annual service, despite a third of boilers in the UK being older than ten years. Only 40 per cent of homeowners in the UK have installed a carbon monoxide alarm, which alerts occupants of excessive carbon monoxide gas. Incredibly, 20 per cent of male respondents did not even know what a carbon monoxide alarm was!

The marketing manager for npower Hometeam, Joan Coe, said: “Carbon monoxide poisoning is often caused by failure or damage to gas appliances, which prevents fuel from burning properly and, because CO is colourless and odourless, leaks can be difficult to spot.

“Older appliances are a greater risk when it comes to CO leaks as they’re more likely to be inefficient and malfunction, wasting money and risking health. So it’s particularly worrying that at least a third of UK boilers are more than ten years old, not to mention other gas appliances such as fires and cookers”.

Ms Cole added: “Millions of homes could be at risk of a carbon monoxide leak, but whilst many of us are aware of the risks associated with fire and are likely to have a smoke alarm installed, attitudes to carbon monoxide poisoning have yet to change in the same way and very few of us have carbon monoxide alarms in place”.

Hometeam’s research comes just months after the ‘Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarm!’ campaign claimed 65 per cent of households in Britain were at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.