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Mass majority wouldn't recognise symptoms of silent killer - poll

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Mass majority wouldn't recognise symptoms of silent killer - poll

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Health and also in Environment

British Gas British Gas

Less than a fifth of us would recognise the symptoms of the UK's most common form of poisoning - carbon monoxide.

An online survey of 2,000 people, carried out by OnePoll on behalf of the Gas Safety Trust, found that despite a number of recent high profile campaigns, only 13% of people would be able to identify the main symptoms and characteristics of CO poisoning.

The poll discovered that the under 25s were the least able to identify all of the symptoms and that under a third had an audible CO alarm.

And it was also discovered that over a third of homeowners had not had their boiler serviced in the last 12 months, whilst just under a quarter of renters knew whether or not their appliances had undergone a landlord’s safety check.

Every year in the UK, 4,000 people are diagnosed with low-level CO poisoning, 200 are admitted to hospital and approximately 40 people are killed.

Early symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to common ailments such as food poisoning, viral infections, flu or simple tiredness. These may include headache, drowsiness, nausea and vomiting, aching muscles, difficulty breathing, vision changes, high blood pressure, tinnitus, rapid pulse, dizziness, vertigo, and pins and needles.

Chris Bielby, chair of the Gas Safety Trust, said: “We were disappointed to find that despite a concerted effort by industry and others, there is still a worrying lack of awareness about the dangers of carbon monoxide.

"With the Department of Health estimating 40 deaths per year from carbon monoxide, it is essential that people get their appliances checked on an annual basis by an appropriately qualified engineer (Gas Safe Register in the case of natural gas appliances) and that every household has an audible carbon monoxide alarm.

"Initiatives over the last 10‒20 years have made great progress but with an emerging trend of fatalities from barbecues and generators, where they are used in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation such as tents, it is clear that we have much further to go to get the message across to the public.”

Lynn Griffiths, president of charity Carbon Monoxide Awareness, said that it didn’t surprise her that over a third of people had not had their boilers serviced in the last 12 months.

She said: “We have had homeowners tell us they didn't need their boiler serviced because they had a carbon monoxide alarm. I believe there is still a lot of confusion over landlords gas safety checks because most tenants I believe haven't been told what they should expect or what they should ask the gas engineer to show them before they allow them to work on their gas appliances.

“Only last Friday I asked a landlord’s gas service provider to show me their gas safe register card. That engineer had a company gas safe card round his neck (which was all the tenant thought they needed to see) but not his own personal gas safe register ID card which carries a picture of the engineer standing at the door and when turned over the appliances they are able to work on plus the date they can work on such appliances up to.

“Not every gas safe registered engineer is allowed to work on every gas appliance so tenants should be asking to see these cards for their own safety.

“Another big concern of mine at the moment is that housing associations are fitting CO alarms - which is great if everyone fitting them knew where to fit them.

“I would like every housing association CEO to pledge their support to the charity's 9th Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week (17-23 November). I believe it would have a much bigger impacted on helping us raise awareness about the dangers of CO if they did this at the same time. Leaflets and posters can be found on the charity's website www.COvictim.org to help them with this.”

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