Derek has expressed his concern about the findings of a report published on 11th October by the Gas Safety Trust which reveals a dramatic rise in the number of deaths resulting from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in the UK since last year.
The Gas Safety Trust, the prime source for data relating to gas safety in the UK, published the Carbon Monoxide Hotspot Report 2011, which contains the reported figures of gas-related CO incidents gained from media report gathering throughout the UK.
In the 12-month period between 1st July 2010 and 30th June 2011 there were 50 recorded incidents involving CO poisoning. Of the 105 people involved in these incidents, there were 25 fatalities and 80 injuries without fatal consequences - over three times as many fatalities as were reported in 2010.
Derek attended Tuesday's launch of the report at the House of Commons to support its recommendations to help improve awareness among consumers of CO safety and to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries.
"This report highlights that members of the public are still at risk from CO poisoning, particularly those living in rented accommodation, which is obviously a huge concern. It is imperative that consumers are made aware of best practice, to get their gas appliances serviced regularly, get an audible CO alarm, and for those with chimneys to make sure they have them swept regularly. These things do not have to cost a fortune, but you cannot put a price on the safety of you and your family."
The report also suggests that medical professionals are similarly unresponsive or unaware of the serious threat posed by carbon monoxide, by failing to diagnose symptoms correctly. Data for 2011 shows that when people exhibiting symptoms associated with CO poisoning sought medical help, only 1% were tested for this possibility.
The Gas Safety Trust is calling for UK householders to be more aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide, known as 'the silent killer' because you cannot smell, taste, hear or see its presence, particularly as the time for turning on central heating approaches. Tuesday 11 October was 'Switch On Day', when most people in the UK turned on their central heating. October through to March is the high-risk period, during which 72% of CO-related incidents occur. The number of incidents peaked in December 2010 when the UK experienced widespread snow and the coldest December for a century.
Despite the dramatic rise in recorded incidents, the Gas Safety Trust warns the real figures could actually be much higher. Nigel Dumbrell, Head of Charitable Operations at the Gas Safety Trust, said;
"While deaths and serious injuries from CO exposure are relatively straightforward to record, the data does not reveal the extent of what might be termed 'near misses'. The records do not capture information about the number of people who are unwittingly exposed to low levels of CO poisoning; levels that may cause long-term ill health, but go undetected."
The Gas Safety Trust says further awareness activity is also needed to increase the proportion of households with a CO alarm, given the role of alarms in saving people from serious injury and death. Of all the CO incidents recorded, no incident involving an alarm resulted in a fatality or serious injury.
For a copy of the full report, please go to: