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CO2 Alarms Save Lives!

Silent Killer loose in Stoke on Trent

25/03/2011 by Kate Poxon


The Gas Safety Trust released their annual report for 2011, and Carbon Monoxide deaths have trebled in the last year, in a twelve month period as of June 30th CO poisoning claimed the lives of twenty five compared with seven deaths the previous year.

Staffordshire and Cheshire were both ranked highly on the CO2 poisoning hot spot report, statistically Wales experienced the most poisoning incidents however Devon sadly ranked top hotspot with five incidents and two fatalities.

A Staffordshire family of 5 were nearly killed in January two adults and three children aged two, nine and 11 were taken ill on 22 January 2011. The families symptoms were vomiting and severe headaches and two of the adults who became ill, also collapsed. Quick action by the paramedics using oxygen saved their lives and they discharged from hospital several hours later.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Graham Slater for carrying out gas safety checks at the bungalow in Squirrel Walk, Little Aston, Staffordshire, on 20 February 2009 and 1 July 2010, despite not being fully qualified.
HSE inspector Wai-Kin Liu said after the case:

"Anyone who hires a gas engineer to carry out work in their property should always ask to see their Gas Safe Register identity card and check the type of appliances they are qualified to work on."

Even though winter is nearly over 42% of last year’s incidents did not occur between November and February, a lot involved camping equipment and fires.

During August in Newquay, two adults and three children were rescued from their tent they had been overcome by carbon monoxide fumes from a barbecue. Even more disturbing is that the real figures could be higher, The Gas Safety Trust report only contains figures of incidents gained from media reports 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 – even low levels can cause long term health issues.

Joyce Bridgewater, from Camelford in Cornwall, suffered low-level CO poisoning by breathing the colourless odourless gas in her home over a period of 10 years and now has to use a wheelchair.

Recent analysis suggested the hidden toll, each year, from this dangerous invisible gas,

4,000 people go to A&E
200 people are hospitalised
25 deaths in England and Wales 2011


How can we prevent CO2 Posioning?
These tragedies are avoidable,


  1. Make sure gas and fuel appliances are properly installed and maintained by a gas safe plumber.
  2. You should also fit an audible carbon monoxide la}arm that meets European Standard EN 50291.
  3. Be vigilant and check heating appliances are working properly and are well ventilated.


Of all the CO incidents recorded, none involving an alarm resulted in a fatality or serious injury.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are very similar to those for flu and food poisoning including persistent headaches, sickness and tiredness this makes it difficult to spot. In a vicious circle it makes it more dangerous, as when we have a cold we go home stay indoors, wrap up warm and turn up the heating.
The new estimate of 4,000 attendances at A&E is of concern as prolonged exposure to levels that produce only minor symptoms may, in some cases, be associated with lasting neurological effects, such as memory loss and difficulties in concentrating.

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