More than a quarter of UK residents don't have carbon monoxide detectors installed in their current homes, according to new research.
For Gas Safety Week, taking place from the 13th to 19th September 2021, the online boiler company BOXT surveyed 2,000 UK residents to reveal how gas safe the public are.
In the study, 12.3% of respondents admitted to never testing their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and another 7.8% didn't even know where their alarms were.
Worryingly, 12.7% of respondents said they would have no idea what to do in the instance of a carbon monoxide leak, and only 25% would recognise the main six symptoms of exposure to the fumes.
Andy Kerr, co-founder of BOXT said: "Carbon monoxide leaks are easy to miss if you don't have a working detector, as you can't see, smell, or taste the poisonous fumes."
If your home has a fuel-burning appliance, you should fit a carbon monoxide detector in every room where the fuel burns. However, homes that entirely run on electricity aren't required to install this detector.
Andy added: "Every second counts after being exposed to carbon monoxide. So, you must be able to recognise the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning and know how to respond in the event of a leak."
Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, tiredness, and stomach pain. It can also lead to a loss of consciousness and even death.
Andy continued: “The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can also be linked to various other illnesses but unlike the flu, it won’t cause a high temperature. Some even confuse it for food poisoning, tiredness, or a hangover, so it’s critical to fit an alarm that will detect a leak.
“Symptoms can get worse with more exposure to the source of the leak, and lift when the sufferer leaves the area or property.”
If you suspect a carbon monoxide leak has occurred in your home, turn the gas off or leave the room with the solid fuel-burning appliance, open the windows, leave the property, and go outside.
Don't smoke, light a match, or turn any electrical switches on or off. Also, don't use doorbells, mobile phones, or any other electrical switches that could trigger a spark. Carbon monoxide is not only deadly to breathe in but also highly flammable.
Andy added: "While gas and carbon monoxide poisonings are extremely serious, you can minimise the risk by conducting regular maintenance of gas appliances, smoke alarms, and carbon monoxide detectors. These safety checks take little time and effort but can save your life."
All household gas appliances should be checked by a professional annually, which more
than half of those surveyed claimed to do so. However, 14.1% said they never check them.
Of those who hadn't had their gas appliances safety checked within the past year, 15.1% blamed COVID, as the virus has caused them to no longer want people in their homes.
Another 13.6% didn't know they needed to conduct these safety checks, and another 11.1% didn't think it was necessary. The cost was also cited as the reason by 8.8% of respondents.
Andy continued: “Ensure you get your gas appliances checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer and check their Gas Safe ID card for reassurance of their qualifications.
“If defective, gas appliances could cause a dangerous gas leak, fires, explosions, and carbon monoxide poisoning. Unlike carbon monoxide, utility gas has a chemical added to it that smells like sulfur, so leaks often create a noticeable scent. But it can also cause physical symptoms like dizziness, nausea, and headaches.”
If a gas or carbon monoxide leak occurs in your home, call the 24 hour Gas Emergency Number on 0800 111 999. Don't return to your house until the leak's source is found and fixed by a Gas Safe registered professional.