Over half of UK population at risk from the silent killer

  • Almost 27 million people in the UK don’t have a carbon monoxide alarm in their home
  • Londoners the least likely to be protected with two thirds not having a life-saving alarm
  • Protect yourself and your family by following the ABC guide – Do you have an Alarm fitted? Have you tested it and are the Batteries working? Have you had an up to date gas Check? 

With the arrival of February, traditionally the coldest month, research for the ‘Carbon Monoxide Be Alarmed!’ campaign has found that almost 27 million people are at risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, with 52 percent saying they do not have a CO alarm fitted in their home.

When it comes to safety, however, people are almost twice as likely to fit a smoke alarm (85.7 percent) than a carbon monoxide alarm (48 percent). Window locks (68.6 percent) and double locks for doors (52.7 percent) are also more common than carbon monoxide alarms. In London (33.9 percent) and Yorkshire (53 percent) burglar alarms are seen as more important.

Over 50 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning and another 4,000 are treated in hospital. Carbon monoxide poisoning can affect people before they are aware that there is a problem so a CO alarm can be life-saving.

Lawrence Slade, CO Be Alarmed! spokesperson, said:
“As we enter one of the coldest months of the year, it is worrying to think that over half of the population are not protecting themselves from carbon monoxide poisoning.

“This is a silent killer – you cannot see it, taste it or smell it. Protect yourself, and your family, by following the simple ABC checklist – Do you have an Alarm fitted? Have you tested it and are the Batteries working? Have you had an up to date gas Check?”

Almost three in five people in the UK do not associate symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness and breathlessness with carbon monoxide poisoning. Younger people are at most risk with just 17 percent linking the symptoms to this silent killer, and more likely to believe they are suffering from a panic attack (22.8 percent) or flu (21 percent). Worryingly 16-24 year olds are also the least likely to have a CO alarm fitted (37.3 percent).

This latest research also highlights a number of differences in attitude to carbon monoxide alarms across the UK’s regions. Londoners are the least likely to have a CO alarm, with two thirds (66 percent) of people claiming not to have one, a contrast to Wales with the highest ownership of carbon monoxide alarms (55.6 percent), although that still means that over two in five people (44.4 percent) still don’t have one.

Notes to editors:

  1. CO Be Alarmed! is the national campaign to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by carbon monoxide. Since 2008, the campaign has encouraged people to install carbon monoxide alarms in their homes. The Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed! campaign is run by Energy UK. To find out more about the campaign you can visit www.co-bealarmed.co.uk
  2. The research for Carbon Monoxide Be Alarmed! was carried out by Opinion Matters between 03.01.2017 and 10.01.2017 among 2,000 people, 16+, across the United Kingdom
  3. Carbon monoxide is produced when fuels such as gas, oil, charcoal, coal and wood do not burn completely. The most common cause of this is when an appliance, 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.