Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service is backing Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week by calling on people to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is known as the “silent killer” because it is a colourless, odourless, poisonous gas that you can’t see, taste or smell but which can kill quickly without warning.
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service is urging people to take notice of symptoms and is offering safety advice as part of Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week, which starts on Monday, November 17, and is organised by the Carbon Monoxide Awareness Charity.
From January 1, 2012, to October 31, 2014, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service attended 39 call-outs to reports of carbon monoxide. This included 12 in Liverpool, nine in Sefton, nine in Wirral, seven in St Helens and two in Knowsley.
Last month firefighters were called out to a property on New Ferry Road in New Ferry, Wirral, after a carbon monoxide alarm activated. Fire crews used ToxiRAE equipment to test for carbon monoxide at the property.
In April last year firefighters were called out to a property in Ward Avenue, Formby, where they had to test for carbon monoxide using ToxiRAE equipment. Firefighters were also called out to a property in Wargrave Road, in Newton-le-Willows, in February last year where a property tested positive for carbon monoxide. Fire crews were also called out after a carbon monoxide alarm activated at a property in Norwood Avenue, Southport, in January, 2013.
Firefighters also gave oxygen to a woman suffering suspected carbon monoxide poisoning after they were called to a property in Edge Hill in January, 2013. Fire crews found no traces of carbon monoxide but a gas engineer was contacted. The woman was taken to the Royal Hospital.
It can be difficult for residents to detect carbon monoxide poisoning as the symptoms are similar to other illnesses such as the flu and food poisoning, however, a number of people may have the symptoms at the same time.
Symptoms can include nausea, tiredness, headaches, dizziness, vomiting, stomach pains, concentration problems, personality change and visual problems.
If anyone believes they have carbon monoxide poisoning, they should get fresh air immediately, open windows and doors, turn off combustion devices and leave the home. They should seek medical advice immediately. Long-term exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to depression, confusion and memory loss.
Residents are advised to have an audible carbon monoxide alarm fitted in their homes and to test it regularly.
People should never bring barbecues into the home, conservatories or into a tent as there are dangers of carbon monoxide emissions. Barbecues are only for outdoor use and should also never be used in enclosed spaces as heating devices.
Residents are also urged to ensure all fuel burning appliances and chimneys are installed by appropriate registered tradespeople and they are serviced regularly.
Kevin Johnson, MF&RS Home Safety Manager, said: “We would urge people to have their gas appliances and chimneys serviced regularly and we would also advise people to have carbon monoxide alarms fitted.
“Carbon monoxide can be difficult to detect because the symptoms are similar to other common illnesses, however, anyone who believes they have carbon monoxide poisoning should get fresh air immediately and seek medical advice.
“We are supporting Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week to educate people about the symptoms and the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning while offering advice to try and prevent people becoming victims of this silent killer.”
In January 2013, six fire appliances on Merseyside started to carry safety messages on the risks of carbon monoxide, as part of an awareness campaign by the Gas Safe Register.
All frontline fire appliances in Merseyside have equipment that can detect dangerous levels of Carbon Monoxide in buildings and properties where firefighters attend.
You can find out more about gas safety in your home, how to find a registered engineer in your area, and how to check that they are qualified to work on your gas appliances, at www.gassaferegister.co.uk or call 0800 408 5500.
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