Carbon monoxide poisoning prompts call for home safety measures


A bereaved woman's call for greater use of domestic carbon monoxide (CO) alarms has coincided with a government report urging their installation in all newly-built homes.

Anne Mitchell's teenage daughter died from carbon monoxide poisoning due to a poorly-fitted fire. Mrs Mitchell returned home in Torfaen in March 2005 to find that her 14-year-old daughter Alex had collapsed.

The fitter who carried out the work was later jailed.

Campaigning to raise awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and the risks of hiring unqualified gas fitters, Mrs Mitchell said that CO alarms should be "mandatory".

The Gas Safe Register, which replaced Corgi as the official registration scheme for gas fitters in April 2009, said 10 people died in the UK in 2011 and over 330 were injured from gas-related incidents.

The Register said that since its foundation 7 unqualified gas fitters had received custodial sentences and 2,000 others were investigated.

The Register said in a statement that research suggests that the public nonetheless still place too much faith in tradesmen. "1 in 3 trust a tradesman to work on their gas appliances on recommendation alone."

Mrs Mitchell does not want others to experience what she has been through. "There's not enough information out there. People just aren't aware of it."

Mrs Mitchell said she would have bought a CO detector if it had been recommended by the gas fitter. "It's your first line of defence," she noted. "It will pick it up."

Clive Betts MP, chair of the government's Communities and Local Government Committee, said: "The government should oversee a co-ordinated public awareness campaign by the various industry organisations to raise public awareness of carbon monoxide poisoning and ensure homeowners appreciate that they themselves are liable for faulty gas or electrical installations and repairs."

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