RoSPA and Gas Safe Charity call for more partners to help deliver major CO awareness programme

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and Gas Safe Charity have renewed calls for organisations to register their interest in becoming local partners for the Be Gas Safe programme, which raises awareness of the “silent killer” carbon monoxide.

The programme, which was rolled out across England earlier this year, has so far distributed over 3,000 CO alarms for use by key risk groups - particularly families with young children, and older people – along with 30,000 I’m Staying Gas Safe leaflets. To date, there are 15 local partnerships onboard from Devon and Somerset in the south to Durham and Darlington in the north.

Each year in England and Wales, there are approximately 50 accidental deaths and 200 non-fatal poisonings that require hospital admission. This is in addition to the 4,000 visits to A&E that result from CO poisoning*. Children and older people are particularly at risk. With gas appliances and flues which have not been properly installed, maintained or ventilated known to be among the causes of CO poisoning, the key focus of this programme is the sharing of information and advice on how to stay “gas safe”.

Organisations with an interest in becoming local partners would receive the following free of charge:

• A briefing pack containing information on how to run a local Be Gas Safe programme
• Up to 100 CO detectors for distribution to vulnerable clients
• 1,000 I’m Staying Gas Safe leaflets.

Priority will be given to organisations in areas where there has been a higher incidence of CO poisoning per head of population or where particular concerns have been raised about gas safety.

Ashley Martin, RoSPA’s public health project manager, said: “As we prepare to enter the winter period, many people will begin to switch on their heating to fight off the winter chill. Carbon monoxide is known as the ‘silent killer’ because you cannot see it, taste it or smell it. That’s why steps need to be taken to reduce the risk.

“We look forward to hearing from potential partners across England and Wales who would like to get involved with the programme which is making a difference in helping to save lives and reduce injuries.”

More information and an application form are available to download from the Be Gas Safe website - www.carbonmonoxidesafety.org.uk. Alternatively, email amartin@rospa.com.

Gas Safe Charity was established in 2009 by the Health and Safety Executive and Gas Safe Register, which is the official list of engineers who are qualified to work safely and legally on gas appliances.
To reduce the risk of CO poisoning:
• For gas appliances, use an engineer registered through Gas Safe Register for installation and annual services. Always check that an engineer’s capabilities, which are listed on the back of his or her identity card, include the job you want doing. If you live in rented property, ask your landlord to show you the property’s gas safety certificate
• Consult your fuel supplier or professional heating engineer for the regular servicing of other fuel-burning appliances
• Rooms should be well ventilated and chimneys or flues swept regularly
• Fit an audible CO alarm, but remember this should be in addition to the other actions
• Know the signs of CO poisoning, which include: in your family (particularly children and the elderly, and maybe even your pets) - prolonged flu-like symptoms; gas appliances burning with orange, instead of blue, flames; sooty stains on or near appliances; excessive condensation in the room; and coal or wood fires that burn slowly or go out.
*Figures quoted by the Department of Health (www.dh.gov.uk/health/2011/11/co-poisoning/).



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