Carbon Monoxide – The Silent Killer

In August 2010, Neil McFerran and Aaron Davidson, both 18, died from carbon monoxide poisoning at a holiday flat in Castlerock, Co Derry. In this video, their mothers talk about the impact of the tragedy.

What are the risks of carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide poisoning is caused by faulty or badly-serviced gas and other fossil fuel-burning appliances and systems. Carbon monoxide (sometimes referred to by its chemical symbol CO) is known as the silent killer because you can’t see it, hear it, smell it or taste it.

According to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England (November 2013), accidental carbon monoxide poisoning results in recorded cases of around 40 deaths and 200 hospitalisations each year in England & Wales. Those most at risk are the under 14s and the over 65s, accounting for 31 per cent and 25 per cent of hospital admissions respectively.

What are the signs of carbon monoxide?

  • Boiler pilot light flames burning orange instead of blue
  • Sooty stains on or near appliances
  • Excessive condensation in the room
  • Coal or wood fires that burn slowly or go out
  • Families suffering prolonged, flu-like symptoms.

How can I reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning?

  • Have your gas appliances serviced annually by a gas engineer who is registered with Gas Safe Register
  • Use professionals to annually service any other fossil-fuel burning appliances, such as oil or coal burning stoves
  • Fix carbon monoxide detectors in your home; these can be purchased from DIY-type stores
  • Ensure detectors are maintained and replaced according to packaging instructions.

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