Stay safe from the silent killer this winter

People in Devon are being urged to keep their friends, family and neighbours safe from the ‘silent killer’ this winter.

Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week is the perfect opportunity to check that you and your loved ones stay safe from the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, the so-called silent killer– this is the message from Wales & West Utilities.

Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week is organised by the charity CO-Awareness and takes place annually in the third week of November (18-24 November 2013).

The aim of the week is to reduce incidents, fatalities and ill health due to carbon monoxide poisoning by raising awareness amongst consumers.

In the past year 56 people have been injured by carbon monoxide poisoning in Devon. 

Wales & West Utilities is the gas network operator responsible for the pipes that deliver gas to homes and businesses in Wales and the south west of England.

Clive Book, Wales & West Utilities Head of Emergency Services, said: “Every year we make over 1,000 visits to properties where we find evidence of carbon monoxide.  It’s important for people to realise that this is a poisonous gas that doesn’t smell, has no taste and can’t be seen - but it kills 40 people in the UK every year and leaves a further 200 seriously ill.

“It’s emitted by faulty appliances powered by any fuel that burns – gas, coal, oil, petrol and wood. And the symptoms from inhaling it include headache, dizziness, vomiting and shortness of breath. Sometimes people have ‘flu-like symptoms, but without the high temperature.

“To protect against the risk of CO, audible alarms are important but there is no substitute for getting all appliances, powered by any fuel that burns, serviced annually.  You should also ensure that chimneys and flues are swept, especially now we are entering the colder months. If your grandparents haven’t already had or arranged a service, now is the time to remind them to get that done, or arrange it for them.”

Signs to look out for that show there could be a risk of CO include:

  • Gas appliances burning with a lazy yellow or orange flame instead of crisp and blue
  • Increased condensation inside windows
  • Pilot lights blowing out frequently
  • Soot or yellow/brown staining around or on appliances

And if you do suspect CO poisoning, this is what to do:

  • Turn appliances off
  • Open doors and windows
  • Get everyone outside into fresh air immediately
  • Call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999
  • And if there is a medical emergency, don’t delay, ‘phone 999

“The National Gas Emergency Service number is the one to call if people suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, smell gas or think they have a gas leak , so it’s an important number to have on hand and saved in case it’s needed quickly,” Clive added.

Wales & West Utilities has produced a film entitled The Silent Killer, warning of the dangers of Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Unlike standard public awareness films, The Silent Killer builds the drama and suspense until CO Poisoning finally strikes a typical family.

The film and more information on carbon monoxide poisoning can be found on Wales & West Utilities’ website www.wwutilities.co.uk

Over 7.5 million people rely on Wales & West Utilities to deliver gas for heating and cooking to their homes and businesses in Wales and the south west of England.  Our dedicated team of 1,300 people manages a network of over 35,000km of gas pipes – which would stretch from Wales to New Zealand and back, to keep the gas on 24/7. 

And if anyone smells gas, thinks they have a gas leak, or suspects carbon monoxide poisoning, they should call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999 and our engineers will be there to help, day or night. We deal with over 2000 reported gas leaks a week and over 1,000 calls a year where evidence of carbon monoxide is found.