Dangers Of The Silent Winter Killer Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week

Date Added 25.11.16

This week it’s time to focus our attention on the dangers of Carbon Monoxide as it is Carbon Monoxide Awareness week.

This year marks the 11th annual Carbon Monoxide Awareness week, an initiative established by the CO Awareness charity to not only raise awareness among healthcare professionals and the general public, but to support victims of CO poisoning and their families. At Tollers Personal injury we have specialist lawyers that can provide help and advice for those who have suffered Carbon Monoxide poisoning because of the negligence of landlords, builders, plumbers, employers or holiday tour operators.

The Silent Winter Killer

Often referred to as the ‘Silent Winter Killer’ as it has no colour, smell or taste, Carbon Monoxide is produced when fuels such as gas, oil, coal and wood don’t burn fully. Many common household appliances use these fuels such as boilers, gas fires, water heaters, cookers and open fires. The incorrect installation or poor maintenance of these appliances are the most common causes of CO poisoning along with poor ventilation. At high dosage levels it can kill in as little as 3 minutes; at lower dosage levels it causes illness.

Maintenance and service on these appliances should always be carried out by qualified and registered engineers. If you rent your home, this is the responsibility of your landlord and they are being negligent if they refuse or neglect to do so. You should also have at-least one audible carbon monoxide alarm installed. It is not just at home we need to be mindful. Carbon Monoxide can be produced anywhere that fuel is being burned including caravans, mobile homes, boats, holiday homes and workplaces. If a landlord, employer or holiday tour operator fail to ensure the CO safety of all appliances, and you become ill as a result, you may have cause to claim for compensation.

How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

There’s a lot you can do*:

  • Make sure all your fuel-burning appliances are installed by a qualified installer
  • Get your boiler and any other fuel-burning appliances serviced once a year
  • Always use a qualified service agent for your fuel type
  • Get your chimney swept once a year & keep your flues and chimneys clear at all times
  • Never block room ventilators
  • Make sure any building work does not interfere with your existing ventilation or flue arrangements
  • Use appliances correctly and for their intended purpose
  • Don’t use appliances you suspect may be faulty
  • If you store wood or biomass pellets, make sure your store is well ventilated
  • Always buy appliances from a reputable outlet/ All appliances should carry the CE mark
  • You should have a carbon monoxide alarm in every room that has a fuel-burning appliance and one within 5m (16ft) of every bedroom.

     (*Source: The facts about Carbon Monoxide)

How to Spot Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

There is no substitute for prevention however, it is important for us to address the symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Paul Morrison, Head of Tollers Personal Injury says “As we head towards winter, it would be easy to mistake the start of carbon monoxide poisoning for the ‘flu.”

Symptoms of exposure to low levels of Carbon Monoxide, as shown on the NHS website include headaches, dizziness, tiredness, shortness of breath, stomach pain and nausea and are often overlooked as the symptoms of ‘flu or food poisoning. The difference is that CO poisoning will not cause an increase in temperature (fever) that is associated with food poisoning or ‘flu.

If you are subjected to exposure to a high level of CO, the symptoms can be much more severe including;

  • Impaired mental state and personality changes
  • Vertigo
  • Ataxia (a lack of muscle coordination which may affect speech)
  • Breathlessness and tachycardia (fast heart rate)
  • Chest Pain
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness

What to do if you suspect a Carbon Monoxide Leak

If you have a carbon monoxide alarm and it sounds or you suspect a CO leak you should stop using and switch off all appliances and open doors and windows to ventilate the property. Vacate immediately and, if using a gas appliance call the gas emergency number on 0800 111 999 to report the incident. You can also call the Health and Safety Executive Gas Safety Advice Line on 0800 300 363.

Wait for emergency services to clear the property before going back inside and seek medical attention, even if you don’t have any symptoms.

Seeking compensation for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Choosing the right solicitor to fight for compensation is crucial. Tollers specialist personal injury lawyers can help you through the claims process with professional, jargon-free advice. We make the process of claiming compensation as hassle free as possible for you. We will give you a no-obligation assessment of your claim, and whether you have a good chance of success. If we think you have a good case for compensation, we can help on a ‘No Win No Fee’ basis.

Talk to Tollers on0333 414 9123 or email personalinjury@tollers.co.uk for free confidential advice.

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