Carbon monoxide charity warns Covid-19 could be mistaken for the deadly gas as it receives £100,000 donation from victim’s family.
A charity that seeks to reduce deaths and injuries from carbon monoxide poisoning has received a
£100,000 donation to help further its work supporting victims and preventing future tragedies.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly gas that can be emitted from faulty cooking and heating appliances powered by any carbon based fuels such as gas, coal, wood, oil, petrol, or diesel. CO is odourless, colourless and can’t be detected by any human senses.
With people spending more time inside their homes because of Covid-19 there are concerns that symptoms of CO poisoning could be mistaken for the virus. Less than 2% of CO in the air can kill in between one and three minutes. At this time of the year there is a raised risk from carbon monoxide as people close their windows and seal their doors to keep out the damp and cold trapping the deadly gas inside their homes.
This is the twenty sixth anniversary of the founding of the charity, CO-Gas Safety. Since its formation the charity has battled to raise the awareness of the dangers from Carbon Monoxide and to help victims and their families.
The family donating the money to the charity lost a loved one as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning. They wish to remain anonymous.
Stephanie Trotter, OBE, President & Director of CO-Gas Safety said, ‘’We are extremely grateful for this donation. This generous gift will enable the charity to continue its work to prevent future deaths.
“We collect and analyse deaths and injuries to find out what went wrong so we can learn how to improve the system. We seem also to be the only provider of specific, free and confidential help and advice for families and survivors of CO.
‘’There needs to be far greater awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide. This must be coupled with good installation, regular & better maintenance, more rigorous chimney and flue sweeping and checking, adequate ventilation, better training of engineers with greater attention to the job and CO alarms to EN 50291 standards bought direct from the supplier & set up. All of these actions would have saved all those we know about who have died from unintentional CO poisoning.
‘’We have also been blessed with other donations in the past year to help us continue with our work.
‘‘However, we have always strived to make ourselves redundant and our main aim has always been prevention. Why does the government refuse our requests to implement recommendations made by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2000 to prevent deaths and injuries from CO?
“Why are we unable to even see the Ministers involved? The reason given is the reduction in deaths. But as there is no automatic test on death how do we know?
“Baroness Finlay recommended that there should be automatic testing on dead bodies in 2011. So why hasn’t this been implemented?”
CO-Gas Safety has lobbied since 1995 for:-
- Raised awareness of the dangers of CO and research into how to prevent it.
- The gas emergency service to use equipment to test gas appliances for CO.
Stephanie said, ‘‘It’s not just the deaths we are concerned about. We are also extremely worried about exposure to CO which can cause nerve and brain damage and many other injuries. The main problem is the lack of recognition by the medics of CO poisoning. This is mainly due to the lack of proof of emissions from appliances, such as cookers and boilers.”
Sue Westwood is a survivor and trustee of the charity. Sue said ‘‘I was exposed to CO because my flue wasn’t attached by the installer. I was lucky enough to survive – but the medics knew little about CO and accused me of taking cocaine!
“The gas emergency service does not test gas appliances for CO. Fresh air quickly leaves the blood and breath of a survivor so even if medics test the person for CO any samples often produce a dangerous false negative. It is almost impossible and costly to find anyone to test the air or appliances for CO.
‘‘The system makes proof of CO almost impossible. So medical staff tend to assume CO is rare. It’s Catch 22; to prove CO you have to prove CO.”
Sue’s one minute film tells her story see https://www.co-gassafety.co.uk/one-survivors-story
Stephanie said, ‘’Sue Westwood had Covid-19 and now has long Covid. Could CO help to explain long Covid? Perhaps those already exposed to CO do not recover as well? Could survivors of Covid return from hospital to homes polluted by CO and then suffer from long Covid? Perhaps those weakened by exposure to CO are more likely to die of Covid?”
Paul Overton is another CO survivor and whose eleven-year-old step daughter, Katie died from carbon monoxide poisoning. He said, ‘’The Health & Safety Executive recommended these steps over twenty years ago but neither government nor industry has implemented them. Yet they are even more important now because symptoms of CO are similar to those of any virus, including Covid-19.
Why is there no action?”
To find out how to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning please visit www.co-gassafety.co.uk/about-co/prevention/.
Demand for maintenance for gas appliances has fallen by 34% in the pandemic so please get your appliances serviced.
Note to Editors:-
Stephanie Trotter, Sue Westwood and Paul Overton are all available for TV/Radio/ Media interviews. For their contact details please telephone Stephanie on:-
Tel. 01983 564516
Mobile: 07803 088688
Stephanie has run the CO-Gas Safety since 1995 helped by other directors who are mainly survivors and families.