Fabiani highlights risks from poisonous gas

Linda Fabiani MSP for East Kilbride urged people in the town to protect themselves from carbon monoxide poisoning by getting an alarm in their home.

Linda said “A lot of people don’t realise the risks posed by carbon monoxide poisoning.  It can cause serious health problems, including brain damage – and it can kill you.

“The best way people in East Kilbride can protect themselves is by getting an alarm – I’d urge them to go out and do it today.”

Linda Fabiani MSP was speaking in the week that new research was released by the Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed! campaign revealing that 2.3 million people in Scotland are at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning because they are not protected by an alarm – just over half (53%) of people in Scotland currently have one.  The research has also found that three in four people (75%) in Scotland are unaware that carbon monoxide can kill and only sixteen percent realise that it can cause brain damage. 

Ken and Kim Hansen were visiting the Parliament as part of a week-long tour of the UK promoting carbon monoxide awareness.

Following the death of their 16 year old daughter Amanda, poisoned when a faulty boiler produced the gas, the Hansens campaigned for ‘Amanda’s Law’, which was passed in New York State making carbon monoxide alarms compulsory in all homes. Two thirds of US states now also have similar laws in place.

Mr Hansen said “On January 17th 2009 our life as we knew it came to an end. From that unimaginable day I’ve felt as if I am just living to die. We sit in our house now missing all the laughter and feeling of a family. It’s not a home anymore. It’s just a house. If the emptiness doesn’t kill me, the guilt for not keeping my baby safe will.”

Across the UK, at least fifty people died last year after being poisoned by carbon monoxide and four thousand were treated in hospital – and many more victims go unrecognised because the early symptoms can easily be mistaken for tiredness, flu, food poisoning or even a hangover.

Nearly half (48%) of those surveyed in Scotland admit they would not be confident in recognising the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. Over a quarter (27%) stated that they don’t own a carbon monoxide alarm because they are unaware it can be a significant risk to their health.

In light of these findings, the ‘Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed!’ campaign is calling for people in Scotland to protect themselves with an alarm and for politicians to take action.

The campaign’s Christine McGourty explained “We are urging people to go out and buy an alarm now – but there are also two steps we’d like the Scottish Government to consider. Firstly, amending building regulations so that new homes come with alarms already installed. Secondly, providing an alarm should be part of a landlord’s annual gas safety inspection.”

As carbon monoxide has no colour, taste or smell the only effective way to detect it is with an audible alarm. Carbon monoxide is produced when fuels such as gas, oil, charcoal, coal and wood do not burn fully. The most common cause of this is when appliances such as a boiler or cooker is installed incorrectly or poorly maintained. Carbon monoxide can also build up when flues, chimneys or vents are blocked.

Carbon monoxide alarms are available from many DIY stores, supermarkets, high street shops or directly from energy suppliers. They can cost as little as £15 and many retailers will be offering special discounts in support of the campaign.

For more information about how to stay safe, visit www.co-bealarmed.co.uk.

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