Lawyers representing injured people and bereaved families are calling for compulsory installation of carbon monoxide alarms in rented properties.
“It seems barely a week goes by without a news report of a tragedy involving carbon monoxide poisoning,” said Matthew Stockwell, president of the national, not-for-profit Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) ahead of Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week (18-24 November).
“A carbon monoxide alarm should be as much of a priority in homes as a smoke alarm”, said Matthew.
The Department of Communities and Local Government announced last week* that it is to undertake a formal review of the rules and regulations relating to carbon monoxide alarms in rented homes.
Carbon monoxide is a highly toxic, odourless gas to which people can be exposed through faulty gas appliances.
Symptoms of poisoning include headaches, chest pain, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, distorted vision, breathlessness and stomach pain, and exposure to high levels can cause brain damage and death.
Matthew said that the keys to preventing carbon monoxide deaths in the home are threefold: “At this time of year, it would be easy to mistake the start of carbon monoxide poisoning for the flu. Make sure you know what the symptoms are,” he said.
“If you’re renting, your landlord is responsible for having the gas appliances checked by a GasSafe engineer. Make sure you see a certificate to prove that it has been carried out. If you own your property, having the check-up could be the best bit of property maintenance you ever do.
“And for the sake of the 50** lives lost a year to carbon monoxide poisoning, get a carbon monoxide alarm”.