Protect against CO poisoning with a burglar alarm
With more than 50 people a year dying from the commonly-named ‘silent killer’ and quadruple that number becoming seriously ill from carbon monoxide poisoning, it is crucial to ensure that your homes have a reliable and effective CO detector device.
As of October 1st, Scotland will legally recognise the need for the safe and monitored installation of carbon monoxide detectors. The UK cannot be far behind.
We all know that there are serious dangers of carbon monoxide, but what exactly those dangers are and how to identify the poisonous gas, is ambiguous and so requires safety-assured equipment to identify, ideally one attached to an alarm system.
Recent studies have shown that the number of reported carbon monoxide related deaths are far lower than their actual figure. Upon first glance, figures collected by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) portray a positive picture – deaths have dropped in a decade.
However, research conducted by the Gas Safety Trust revealed a worrying trend in the underreporting in deaths resulting from carbon monoxide poisoning. The charity found that the country’s capital alone had recognised over 80 deaths in one particular year. This figure alone is more than the total number reported to HSE in 2008 – 2009.
“Overseas research suggests the gaps in our knowledge could be masking significant numbers of carbon monoxide poisoning incidents,” the trust added.
The problem and discrepancy is thought to lie with the complex nature of the potentially fatal illness. Carbon monoxide is released when fuel fails to burn completely and its odourless, tasteless and colourless disposition makes boilers, flues and gas appliances a potentially silent killer, if not installed correctly.
Although in the industry, it is generally enforced upon builders, plumbers and contractors to ensure that such appliances are installed safely and effectively, this is a moral obligation not a legal one.
Currently there is only a legal requirement to report any possible carbon monoxide poisoning or leakage, not to monitor it prior to any illness. The HSE accept that there can be flaws with this approach – “there is a legal requirement to report carbon monoxide poisonings, and while we have confidence in the reports we receive, we accept there will always be a possibility of misdiagnosis”.
Ceri Ross was 60 when she died of CO poisoning in October 2009 after material became removed during repair work at her home and consequently blocked 80% of the chimney’s passageway.
A roofing contractor pleaded guilty to providing shoddy workmanship and failing to guarantee Mrs Ross and her family were not at risk of any health and safety issues, and was fined £15,000.
With more than 50 people alone in the UK dying from poisoning each and every year, and 200 left in a serious condition, combined with the vague and often overlooked symptoms including primarily, headaches, dizziness, nausea, stomach pain, tiredness and confusion, surely it is about time that legal recognition is enforced.
The Scottish government have answered this need and from October 1st 2013 new laws in Scotland will ensure that specific carbon monoxide monitors must be installed in all homes and premises when a new or replacement boiler, fire or stove is fitted.
Stand-alone carbon monoxide detectors and alarms are accessible in one, single unit sold very cheaply (about £15) and fitting one of these is obviously paramount in every home. However, a much safer option is to have a CO detector connected to your intruder alarm system. Most systems are compatible with smoke detectors (unless you have a separate fire detection and alarm system which most private resident’s properties won’t).
By having a carbon monoxide (or smoke detector) hard-wired to an alarm system’s control panel you protect yourself against the risk of the battery going flat and remaining undetected, as it doesn’t use batteries.
With a wireless radio-connected carbon monoxide (or smoke detector) attached to your (fire or) intruder alarm system, it’s still a much safer option than a stand-alone detector; despite it using batteries you are less likely to ignore its beeps to warn you of low-battery because a device that’s part of an bonafide alarm system will warn you of any issue each time you set or unset it.
CIA’s affordable Protector wireless alarm system can have smoke, heat and carbon monoxide detectors easily installed in key locations.