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Coronation Street to highlight the dangers of carbon monoxide

By Katie Anderson on December 24, 2012

TV shows are well known for tackling controversial and hard hitting storylines and now viewers of Britain’s longest running soap opera Coronation Street are to be educated about the dangers of faulty boilers and carbon monoxide poisoning in episodes set to air over Christmas and the New Year.  

The storyline is set to have viewers on the edge of their seats as one of the show’s most popular long running characters Fiz Brown, portrayed by actress Jenny McAlpine, falls victim to carbon monoxide poisoning after allowing close friend Tyrone Dobbs, played by Alan Halsall, to illegally fix her broken boiler. After succumbing to flue like symptoms in the following days the situation escalates into life and death territory when Fiz is found lying unconscious in an episode set to air on New Year’s Eve. While Fiz’s life hangs in the balance, a distraught Tyrone discovers he could face prosecution for unlawfully tampering with her boiler.

Given the popularity of the British soap  – episodes regularly attract at least 8 million viewers – it’s hoped the hard hitting storyline will help to drive home the message that letting anyone who isn’t Gas Safe Registered attempt to fix your central heating boiler is highly dangerous, never mind unlawful.

Commenting on her role in the carbon monoxide storyline actress Jenny McAlpine said the script writer’s worked very closely with the Gas Safe Register to ensure the the symptoms exhibited by her character were accurate and true to life.

“Unfortunately what happens to my character is not a rare occurrence in real life,” Brown said. “Carbon Monoxide is deadly and it’s important that as many people know about it as possible.

“The [Gas Safe] Register told us about lots of instances where people have used a friend or someone recommended to them to work on their gas appliances and this has resulted in life threatening consequences.”

Indeed. According to the Gas Safe Register each year a whopping quarter of a million illegal jobs are carried out on has appliances including boilers and cookers. Aside from carbon monoxide poisoning, poorly maintained or badly fitted gas appliances can also be responsible for gas leaks, fires and explosions, all of which can prove fatal.

What makes carbon monoxide poisoning so deadly is victims often are not aware that they have been affected by the silent killer because it has no smell and you can’t see it or taste it. It truly lives up to its ‘silent killer’ tag in every way. Over the last 12 months carbon monoxide poisoning has contributed to the deaths of 50 people, whilst another 4,000 people have been affected by it. The Gas Safe Register has revealed that 43% of people do not have their gas appliances serviced regularly – which means at least once a year – and as many as one in ten have never even had their appliance checked at all.

The message is simple. Only ever have your gas appliances fitted, fixed and maintained by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. Recognise the symptoms – which include headaches, dizziness and nausea – and fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm as a second line of defence.

“I hope this storyline brings the issue to everyone’s minds and that we can help save lives,” added McAlpine.