30 million Brits at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning

Nearly half of people in UK fail to have their boiler checked annually

Over 30 million people across the country could be at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning.

New research released today by the Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed! campaign – the national campaign to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by carbon monoxide – shows that almost half of UK households would be exposed to this silent killer. The study found that nearly half the population do not have an audible carbon monoxide alarm and one in ten have not had their gas boiler serviced in the last year.

Nadine Coyle, popstar, victim of carbon monoxide poisoning and supporter of CO Be Alarmed! said:
“It was back in 2010 when I was living at my house in LA when I first began to feel unwell. It started with headaches and then a constant feeling of nausea. At the time my family were staying with me who were also suffering from the same symptoms.
A routine blood test showed heightened levels of carbon monoxide. I called an engineer to come and have a look at our boiler and he immediately spotted the boiler was faulty and emitting carbon monoxide. We were really shocked as we had no idea it was carbon monoxide causing us to all feel unwell. Once we sought medical help we realised how lucky we were. A few weeks longer and things could have been so much worse.
It was honestly around 6-8 months before my mind and body began to feel normal. It’s now something I feel very strongly about and I encourage everyone I know to ensure they have a carbon monoxide alarm installed.”

The study also found that a false sense of security exists among those who have installed an audible alarm. In fact one in ten do not regularly check their CO alarm to ensure it is working and nearly 70% of people did not know they have an expiration date.

Lawrence Slade, Energy UK, Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed! campaign spokesperson, said:

“This research highlights that an audible carbon monoxide alarm is the only effective way for people to protect themselves and their families.

At least 40 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning every year and thousands more need hospital treatment. On behalf of the Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed! campaign I would urge everyone to have an alarm installed, ensure it is in date, and regularly test it.

It is also vital that people have their boiler regularly inspected, as it is one of the most common causes of carbon monoxide poisoning. Don’t take the risk – get an alarm and get your boiler checked.”

The Department of Health estimates that at least 4,000 people are treated in hospital and 40 are killed by carbon monoxide poisoning each year, but the true figures are likely to be significantly higher*. In France, which has a similar population to the UK and where carbon monoxide is tested for during post mortems, the number of deaths attributed to carbon monoxide is far higher.

Notes to editors:

  •  The research for Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed! was carried out by OnePoll in October 2015, among 2,000 people across the United Kingdom.
  •  In France, the number of deaths attributed to carbon monoxide is far higher. Source: Gas Safety Trust, Carbon Monoxide Hotspot Report, 2010.