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WATCH: Cases of carbon monoxide poisoning soar

WATCH: Cases of carbon monoxide poisoning soar

Published by Emma Carton at 7:30am 5th September 2018. (Updated at 7:48am 5th September 2018)

A Newquay mum who was breathing in a gas dubbed the silent killer for almost a year without knowing has told Pirate FM her family are lucky to be alive.

The south-west has one of the worst rates for carbon monoxide poisoning in the UK.

Figures show there have been close to 1,800 cases in the last 12 months - a rise of more than 134%

Jade Ulrich did not find out if her gas appliance had been safety checked by a registered engineer when she moved into a new home.

"My family and I were poisoned by carbon monoxide just a few years ago when I was pregnant with my second child.

"We're so aware now that you can't see, hear or smell carbon monoxide. It's not something you're going to be aware of unless you're having your appliances checked; that's why they call it the silent killer.

"We definitely didn't expect to have been poisoned whilst we were in our own home and then I learnt that there were serious birth defects that could come from poisoning so it was a complete relief to find out nothing was wrong.

"It was really scary to think that not only had we been poisoned for that length of time, but that there could be long lasting effects; we were just extremely lucky that we caught it at that time".

What do we know about the 'silent killer'?

  • Approximately 50 people needlessly die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning and thousands more are treated in hospital.
  • Carbon monoxide is produced when fuel doesn’t burn properly, usually from badly fitted or poorly maintained appliances. Common sources of CO are gas and oil boilers, gas hobs and fires, log burners, open fires and BBQs.
  • Alarms are the only way to detect CO poisoning as you can’t see it, smell it or taste it. With two-thirds of homes unprotected by an alarm, an estimated 40 million people are at risk. 
  • 80% of residents in properties that DO have an alarm admit that they have no idea whether it works or not as they never test it.
  • In October 2015, legislation came into force that required private landlords to fit a carbon monoxide alarm in every property that had a solid fuel burning appliance, such as an open fire or log burner. The legislation, however, does NOT cover gas appliances such as a gas boiler or gas hob.

How do I know if I have been poisoned?

Early symptoms of CO poisoning can mimic many common ailments and may easily be confused with food poisoning, viral infections, flu or simple tiredness.

  • Headache,
  • Feeling sick (nausea) and dizziness,
  • You may also feel tired and confused, and
  • Some people are sick (vomit) and have abdominal pain. 
  • The symptoms of CO poisoning can resemble those of food poisoning and the flu because they have similar symptoms. However, unlike flu, CO poisoning does not cause a high temperature.

Symptoms that may come on later include:

  • Confusion,
  • Loss of memory, and
  • Problems with co-ordination.
  • For more information visit NHS direct or telephone 0845 4647.

How can I prevent Carbon Monoxide poisoning?

  • Make sure all appliances are installed and maintained by a professional.
  • Keep chimney flues free from blockages - for more information visit chimney fire safety.
  • Ensure your home has enough ventilation and airbricks are not blocked.
  • Protect your family from this silent killer by fitting a CO alarm approved to BS EN 50291.

What do I do in an emergency?

  • In a CO emergency open the windows to ventilate.
  • Evacuate everyone outside to fresh air.
  • Go to your doctor or in an emergency call for an ambulance.

You can read more advice about carbon monoxide here or watch more top tips below...

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