Over a third of UK renters potentially at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning at home
Despite new legal requirements for landlords, research reveals 35% of privately rented homes are not fitted with carbon monoxide alarms, and worryingly only 4% of private tenants can actually identify the most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning
In a bid to help reduce the number of entirely preventable deaths each year from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, npower surveyed people across the UK to see how at risk the nation is from CO poisoning. With the number of people now renting from private landlords hitting its highest level for 30 years, the research revealed over a third of private tenant's homes (34.7%) have not been fitted with an alarm and 11% of private renters (11.1%) are unsure if their home is fitted with an alarm.
The results also show that although 95% of the UK say they know what CO poisoning is, less than 6% of the UK (5.5%) can actually identify the most common symptoms. People living in privately rented accommodation are potentially even more at risk, as only 4% (3.7%) can identify the most common symptoms. When looking at other 'at risk' groups, only 5% of parents (5.1%), 4% of retirees (3.8%) and 4 percent of students (3.5%) can identify the most common symptoms. CO poisoning is often referred to as the silent killer as you can't see, smell or taste it, however around one in seven private renters (13.3%) also incorrectly think you would be able to smell a CO leak.
Every year, around 40 people die unnecessarily from CO poisoning, and over 200 people are admitted to hospital with suspected CO poisoning. This new research suggests people in the UK are worryingly unsure of what the symptoms of CO poisoning are, so the true number of people affected could potentially be much higher.
The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Tiredness and confusion.
- Stomach pain.
- Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.
In October 2015, it became a legal requirement for landlords to fit a CO alarm in rooms that are used as living accommodation which also contain an appliance that burns, or is capable of burning solid fuel. Although there is no requirement to fit one near a gas boiler, it is still advisable as best practice, yet despite this, almost half of private tenants (45.8%) either don't know if their home is fitted with an alarm, or know that their home is not fitted with one.
Additionally, when asked which household appliances could be a cause of CO poisoning, four fifths of Britons (81.3%) correctly said a faulty boiler can be a cause, however less than 40% (39.7%) of people had their boiler serviced in the last 12 months. Bizarrely, almost a quarter (23.5%) of students also incorrectly believe a radiator could be a cause of CO poisoning.
When asked what people would do if they suspected they were suffering from CO poisoning, less than two thirds (58.5%) of people would call a professional to look at the suspected appliance.
Matthew Cole, Head of Domestic Policy & Social Energy Action at npower commented
"It's concerning to see these results as they show there's a serious gap between awareness of CO poisoning and understanding what the symptoms are, which appliances can be a cause and also what people should do if they suspect they are suffering from CO poisoning. We think there's an opportunity for increased education to help reduce the numbers of completely preventable deaths from CO poisoning each year."
Ashley Martin from The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) commented "We are concerned that the results of this survey confirm that many people are still unaware of the dangers of carbon monoxide and the simple measures that can be taken to prevent CO poisoning. RoSPA actively promotes carbon monoxide awareness and we hope the survey will encourage people to take action to protect themselves."
To help increase the UK's understanding around CO poisoning, npower has created an interactive 'spot the hazards quiz'. npower has also recently launched a new tariff called 'Protect And Fix November 2017 ', which comes with 2 Nest Protect smoke + CO alarms (RRP £89 each) at no extra cost.