Press Release Monday 25th January 2021

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:-

  1. Raised awareness of the dangers of CO and research into how to prevent it.
  2. 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.

https://eminetra.co.uk/the-coronavirus-has-reduced-the-demand-for-boiler-maintenance-and-installation-by-34/232956/

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

Email: office@co-gassafety.co.uk

Stephanie has run the CO-Gas Safety since 1995 helped by other directors who are mainly survivors and families.

ENDS

 

Competition about CO for school pupils!

Our humble CO awareness poster competition for school pupils, taken over by the GDNs (much to my joy and relief) has morphed into online resources!

Since the success of Safety Seymour and the subsequent launch of the website back in Lockdown 1 we have been working tirelessly to get the new school program aimed at KS2 up and running and on its very own website!  CO Crew went live last week, and we are seeing some great interest in it already with schools wanting to book live sessions when they reopen.  We have designed the packages so that it can be used now to support home schooling and provide a great resource for Parents, Teachers and Children during these challenging times.

Aimed at years 5 and 6, The CO Crew are on a mission to recruit members to help them protect themselves and their homes from carbon monoxide (CO) and help spread the word about carbon monoxide?

Phil Burrows of Cadent ask for support and help in sharing the new CO Crew website as well as reminding people of safety Seymour through your channels and contacts. We have adapted the teacher sessions by offering lesson plans, videos and audio material, teachers just need to register their interest and we will do the rest

Here are the websites:

https://www.thecocrew.co.uk/

https://safetyseymour.co.uk/

Stephanie Trotter says, ‘It’s brilliant news! Congratulations and many thanks to all who helped with this and particularly to John O’Leary who did so much fabulous work originally and to Phil Burrows who has taken it to the next stage.’

 

Briefing note sent to Barry Sheerman MP and Baroness Finlay co-chairs of APPCOG

This Briefing Note was written by Nathaniel Shaughnessy, manager of Policy Connect with regard to the attempt by Stephanie Trotter, OBE to make a presentation to the board of the All Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group (APPCOG) on the 10th September 2020. This presentation was unsatisfactory due to the fact that by the time Stephanie was called to make her presentation which had been put at the end of everything else, not a single member of the board was present. Stephanie wrote to the CEO of Policy Connect and after some correspondence this briefing note was agreed and sent on the 25.09.20

Briefing Note: CO-Gas Safety Presentation at 10-09 APPCOG Advisory Board

About CO-Gas Safety

CO-Gas Safety is an independent, registered charity working to achieve changes to reduce deaths and injuries from unintentional CO poisoning and other gas dangers. It provides support to those who suspect CO poisoning, victims and their families. Since 1995, it has also collected, collated & published data on deaths and injuries from unintentional CO. It is run almost entirely by volunteers and receives no guaranteed funding.

HSC/E Fundamental Review of Gas Safety

In 2000, following the ‘Fundamental Review of Gas Safety’, the Health and Safety Commission (now Executive) put forwarded a series of recommendations in its ‘Proposals for Change’ (also attached to this email) to improve Gas Safety management in the UK, including:

  1. A levy on the gas suppliers to pay for raising awareness of the dangers and for (recommendation 7)
  2. That the gas emergency service carry and use equipment to test gas appliances for emissions of carbon monoxide (CO). (recommendation 12)

20 years on, neither of these recommendations has been meaningfully implemented. CO-Gas Safety argues this is causing significant and avoidable hardship for survivors of CO poisoning and their families. With regard to (2) in particular, there remains no official free or straightforward procedure to obtain proof of the concentration of CO that was present in the air or emitting from live gas appliances. Whilst a survivor may be able to get a blood or breath test for CO, and the First Call Operators carry Personal Alarm Monitors, by the time either test is done, the appliances have long- since been switched off and the victim instructed to ventilate the room(s) and vacate the property. This has led to reports of survivors being disbelieved by friends, family and medical professionals, so preventing correct/sympathetic medical treatment and thereby wasting NHS funds. Due to its work, CO-Gas Safety is uniquely placed to understand the devastating impact this has, and this is further supported by research from Liverpool John Moore’s University into the experience of survivors.

CO-Gas Safety argues the implementation of these recommendations has always been needed. However, this is now acute as symptoms of CO poisoning could easily be misdiagnosed as COVID-19. Furthermore, OfGEM is providing expanded funding provided by the new £30m ‘use it or lose it’ allowance vulnerable consumers, and more under the innovation initiatives contained within RIIO-2. As such, this is both an essential and opportune moment to finally see these recommendations implemented.

CO-Gas Safety Recommendations

CO-Gas Safety asks the APPCOG board to:

  1. Meet relevant Ministers to call on industry & wealthy charities to take action before winter
  2. Table an immediate EDM to call on industry & wealthy charities to do the same
  3. Meet OfGEM & HSE to ask Gas Emergency Services to test appliances for CO
  4. Request immediate help from DoH for a coordinated educational programme for medics
  5. Facilitate funding for films for prime-time TV & other media.

British Gas engineers found 26,000 unsafe or dangerous gas and electric appliances in UK homes during the first eight months of the year

https://centralhousinggroup.com/fail-survey-finds-shocking-number-of-unsafe-gas-boilers-in-uk-including-within-prs/

Fail! Survey finds shocking number of unsafe gas boilers in UK including within PRS

Posted on October 11, 2020 at 9:30 am

British Gas engineers found 26,000 unsafe or dangerous gas and electric appliances in UK homes during the first eight months of the year even though, LandlordZONE has been told, this includes rented properties, suggesting many PRS homes are still failing to meet basic safety standards.

Centrica, which owns British Gas, has also said many of these unsafe appliances included gas boilers despite the requirement that a landlord must provide a gas safety certificate each year for such appliances.

The research has been released by British Gas to tie-in with the tenth annual Gas Safety Week, which is currently under way (14th-20th September).

Despite the fact that the data includes rented homes, the research also revealed that the average person in the UK hasn’t had their gas appliances serviced by a qualified and gas safe registered engineer in more than 18 months – despite a fifth believing they might be faulty or dangerous.

LandlordZONE asked Centrica if it knew how many of the 26,000 dangerous appliances were in rented properties, but we have been told this information is not available, and only that ‘the data does include rented as well as owned homes’.

Safety basics

But the survey also revealed astonishing ignorance of home safety basics, with a fifth saying they didn’t even know that annual boiler services are recommended, and a third saying they had no idea that being able to smell gas can be an indication that something is unsafe.

With half of those polled saying they never worry about the safety of the gas appliances in their home, British Gas says it is using Gas Safety Week to help raise awareness and understanding – specifically the importance of having carbon monoxide detectors installed.

As well as the legal requirement to provide tenants with a gas safety certificate, the NRLA is reminding landlords that they are responsible for making sure all gas appliances, including the installation of pipe or flues, are maintained in a safe condition throughout the entire time the property is occupied.

Blog Post from Landlord Zone

See details of our Guaranteed Rent Scheme here

Request for people to write something about their week

I have just read https://www.nla-eclipsweb.com/service/redirector/article/66960399.html?version=1 It’s given me an idea. Could a CO survivor please do something similar about their week for us to put on our website? Perhaps anyone reading this who is interested in our work could do the same? We’d be very interested in hearing from First Call Operators from the gas emergency service too. If you could do this, please send it to me, Stephanie office@co-gassafety.co.uk
Please don’t be put off if you are dyslexic or are damaged by CO – I have two dyslexic sons and am used to helping survivors so could help.
Thank you for reading this and I look forward very much to reading what you send me. It might be best to text/phone me first so I know what to look out for in case it goes into my junk. 07803 088688.

Competition for children – win cash, have fun & learn about carbon monoxide poisoning

All four gas distribution networks run this competition but there is a good article about it that I’ve just read at http://www.aberdareonline.co.uk/news/rhondda-cynon-taff/teaching-children-vital-gas-safety-awareness

This is the competition CO-Gas Safety started but taken to an even better level by the gas distribution networks. Please enter and pass on the word to friends and family.

It is really important to your safety to learn about how to avoid carbon monoxide (CO). The charity doesn’t want to hear about anyone dying or being injured by unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning. Learn how to avoid CO, have fun and raise awareness and maybe win the competition! What you learn doing this will protect your whole family all your life. Do please let us know if from learning about CO, you save your life or the lives of your pets or those of family and friends. We’d love to hear from you. Closing date is 30th September. Stephanie My email is office@co-gassafety.co.uk or you can phone me on 07803 088688.