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Reduce risk of carbon monoxide poisoning

19th November 2012

The Health Protection Agency has issued advice to people about having fossil fuel and wood burning appliances checked before the weather turns wintery.

The move, during Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week, comes as figures show there are some 40 accidental deaths a year from carbon monoxide poisoning in England and Wales.

The HPA wants people to have appliances such as boilers, heaters and cookers checked by a registered engineer.

Dr John Harrison, from the agency, said many of the deaths occur between November and February and because they are due to faulty fossil fuel and wood burning appliances, they are often preventable.

He added: "To lower the risk, people should ensure that their fossil fuel and wood burning appliances are regularly checked by an appropriately registered engineer. The HPA recommends that people have these appliances and their flues checked before the start of winter. Rooms in which appliances are used must also be adequately ventilated."

The HPA is also encouraging people to fit a CO alarm which meets European Standards EN 50291 in their homes.

At high levels CO poisoning can cause sudden collapse, loss of consciousness and death. Other symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches, drowsiness, dizziness, chest pains, nausea and vomiting.

It is believed about 4,000 people attend accident and emergency departments in England each year because of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Dr Harrison said carbon monoxide is difficult to detect but indicators that may suggest a fault with domestic appliances or flues can include black sooty marks around appliances or smoke accumulating in rooms due to faulty flues.

 

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