CO Poisoning – The Silent Killer

CO poisoningThe dangers of CO poising to homeowners is well known and some tragic accidents have resulted in tighter regulation. The problem is that the gas has no odour and is tasteless so that without a proper alarm system there would be no way of knowing that there was CO gas in the atmosphere.   It is a fact nevertheless that only two thirds of homes have an alarm system to alert them to the presence of CO gas.

Lessons learned

After the recent tragic events in London where a tower block caught fire with devastating loss of life, it is certain that a brighter light will be shone on the very real need to protect the public, wherever they live, from preventable causes of accident and even death.   At present around thirty people each year lose their life to carbon monoxide poisoning while many thousands need to be treated in hospital for the effects of this poisoning.

Recent research undertaken by John Moore’s University in Liverpool has thrown up the worrying fact that the households that are most at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning are those on lower incomes.  Most at risk are those renting privately, and social housing tenants.  It is therefore vital that housing associations and landlords take a proactive approach to their responsibility for home safety and take the appropriate action.


Currently the legislation states that building managers and landlords must install CO alarms in any room of the house in which there is a solid fuel-burning device.  This legislation however, does not apply to gas boilers and gas cookers.  Government figures show that between 2015 and 2016 just over one quarter of households had a CO alarm fitted.

In rental properties however, the figure is worse with four out of five having no alarm fitted and not protected from the risk of CO poisoning.  In parliament there has been the reassuring move by MP’s to introduce regulation making the installation of carbon monoxide alarms mandatory in rental properties.  As an industry we must also do our part by supporting the installation of these alarms in the properties that we work in.

Easy, Cheap and Life Saving

Wireless alarms powered by battery are not expensive and are very easy and quick to install.  Within minutes an alarm can be in place and offering 24-hour protection to a family from this silent killer.   Installers need to be proactive in promoting the use of CO alarms as opposed the spot detector that often is missed when there is a leak. Positioning is also important so that the alarm can work to optimum effect to protect the people living in the properties they protect.  Installers should be sure that they know how and where to fit these alarms and educate those who need them as to their life saving possibilities.