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Watch Out For Gas Poisoning Symptoms

20th September 2017

Dr. Ranj Singh states that ‘a third (32%) of people would not recognise' symptoms of CO and would think they were caused by other illnesses. Dr Singh may be surprised to hear that most doctors also don't recognise CO. Please watch our one minute film about Sue who had carbon monoxide poisoning - could save your life

The late Dr John Henry, head of emergency medicine at St Mary's Paddington, sent 200 GPs symptoms of CO and although many sensible causes were suggested, not one GP put forward CO as the cause.

We are glad that Dr. Ranj Singh is supporting Gas Safe Register to raise awareness of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. However, we think that more publicity could be being given to CO (e.g. warnings on prime time TV as done recently for a persistent cough) and better training for medics and registered gas installers.

It is also vital to understand that less than 2% of CO in the air can kill in between one and three minutes so it’s not something to take any risks about. See para 74 table 23 page 26

We totally support what Jonathan Samuel, chief executive of Gas Safe Register, said: "CO can leak from badly fitted or poorly maintained gas appliances. We recommend proactive prevention as the first line of defence against CO poisoning by getting your gas appliances checked every year by a Gas Safe Registered engineer to make sure they’re working safely and efficiently. To provide peace of mind, a CO alarm is a great second line of defence to alert you to a potential leak."

However, we would have preferred him to make it clear that appliances powered by any carbon based fuel that burns can also emit CO (so not just gas, but coal, wood, oil, petrol, diesel etc.). We wish he had also stressed the need for chimney and flue sweeping and checking and that it’s important to buy a CO alarm to the standard of EN 50291. Ventilation is also vital but a good registered gas installer should hopefully be able to check that.

We also applaud his advice on taking action, except we urge people who think they might have suffered CO poisoning to insist on an immediate breath or blood test (this does not have to be arterial blood) because proof is useful for correct medical treatment, for employers and spouses and sometimes in cases of severe poisoning, for legal cases.

We are greatly concerned that the Gas Safe Register doesn’t make it easy to find a gas safe registered installer qualified under CMDDA1 to test the appliances for CO or alternatively a more expensive independent gas expert court witness such as Harry Rogers, who we recommended to the parents of the children Christi and Bobby Shepherd aged 7 and 6, who tragically died of CO in Corfu on a Thomas Cook holiday.

Extremely concerning is that I have recently found it impossible to persuade a CMDDA1 qualified engineer to attend a tenant’s property, even though we were willing to pay if necessary in advance. This tenant had some years ago, lost her two year old daughter to CO as well as her unborn baby (but viable at seven months pregnancy) and wanted a reliable check on her landlord’s boiler in the property where she was living with her disabled child.

However, the Gas Safe Register is doing a good job at raising awareness of the dangers of CO. I just wish other parts of the industry, especially the wealthy manufacturers and suppliers, would play their part more obviously and willingly.

CO-Gas Safety is an independent registered charity with no guaranteed funding yet as far as we know, we seem to be the only body to offer victim support with regard to CO.

We also collect, collate and publish data of deaths and injuries from unintentional CO from ALL carbon based fuels since 1995 and ongoing. Do please visit our website and also download our press pack 2017 for our data see pages 31-45.

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