Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week: 1.4 million people at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning

1.4 million people at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning because they don’t have a carbon monoxide alarm

650,000 people have blocked a vent to keep heat in and draughts out, which could create additional risk of CO poisoning

A third of people have not had their boiler serviced within the past year putting them at greater risk

Carbon monoxide awareness week takes place from 25th September – 1st October 2017

Monday 25th September 2017. 1.4 million people are at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in Ireland as they are living in fuel-burning homes without a carbon monoxide alarm. New research, to mark the launch of Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week, has been published today showing that while the number of households with carbon monoxide (CO) alarms is on the rise (59% compared to 53% in 2016). Furthermore, there are still 365,000 people at risk of CO poisoning who don’t know it.

Carbon monoxide is often known as the ‘silent killer’ and, at high levels, it can kill in as little as three minutes. On average six people in Ireland die each year as a result of unintentional CO poisoning. At low levels, it can cause serious illness.  Carbon Monoxide is colourless and odourless, making it very difficult for households to detect. The poisonous gas can be caused by any fossil fuel that burns including oil, gas, peat turf, wood and wood pellets, petrol, diesel and coal.

There are a number of ways to prevent CO poisoning and simple steps you can take to protect you and your family.

Installing a carbon monoxide alarm is essential in homes burning any fuels to detect the deadly gas. Of those who do not have a CO alarm installed in their house, 40% say that they just haven’t got around to getting one yet, putting them at risk. 

Other preventative measures that can be taken to protect against CO include, getting fuel burning appliances serviced annual by a Registered Gas Installer, Registered Oil Technician or a qualified service technician for the fuel type and having chimneys swept annually. The research today shows than one third of adults, 900,000 adults, have not had their boiler serviced in the past year. Furthermore, 29% (450,000) of adults who burn solid fuel in their house have not had their chimney swept in the past year.

Adequate ventilation is also important in preventing CO poisoning and alarmingly 1 in 6 adults have blocked a vent to keep heat in and draughts out – rising to 1 in 5 amongst those aged under 24 and those in the 50-64 group. This could put these people at a higher risk of CO poisoning.

Speaking at the launch of Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week 2017, Minister for Communications, Climate Action & Environment, Denis Naughten, T.D., said; “Carbon monoxide poisoning is causing death and tragedy across Ireland and one simple measure to prevent against is to install an alarm in your house and business. This campaign is crucial for educating the public on the precautions and preventative measures that can be taken to protect against the deadly gas. While the number of households with a carbon monoxide alarm is increasing, there is still a significant number without alarms. This week I am urging those who don’t have an alarm in their homes to get one immediately.”

Architect Dermot Bannon is the campaign ambassador for 2017 and speaking about the campaign he said; “Carbon monoxide is a hazard in the home that is very difficult to detect. With houses becoming better insulated and sealed up from the elements, safety in the home is really important and it’s something I’m very passionate about through my own work. Getting a carbon monoxide alarm is a very simple measure that can be taken to prevent against the gas, and every home across the country should have one. Having appliances serviced annually, and keeping chimneys clean are also really important to ensure you and your family are protected against the harmful gas. ” 

Also speaking at the launch event, Ann McGarry, Director for Energy Safety at the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), said; “This public safety campaign is all about educating the general public on the dangers associated with carbon monoxide, the colourless, odourless deadly gas. There are a number of simple, preventative measures that can be taken to prevent against the gas, and we hope that through this safety campaign, people will learn how to protect themselves and their loved ones.”

The awareness week is a public safety initiative supported by organisations across the energy sector and related industries as well as safety and public health bodies including the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Gas Networks Ireland, the Register of Gas Installers of Ireland (RGII), the Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC), the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI), the Health Service Executive (HSE), the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), the Chief Fire Officers’ Association and major Irish energy retailers.

Further information on Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week is available on www.carbonmonoxide.ie

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