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Carbon Monoxide: Is Your Home Safe this Winter?

As the cold UK weather sets in and you’re relying on your central heating more and more, it is essential that you employ a reputable and registered engineer when it comes to the heating appliances in your home.

What do we mean when we say reputable and registered? The Gas Safe register is an official list of gas engineers who are registered to work safely and legally on gas appliances in the UK. If you’re uncertain whether a gas engineer is ‘reputable and registered’ it is highly recommended that you check the Gas Safe Register before hiring them to work on any appliances in your home.

Carbon monoxide can be produced by any solid fuel burning appliance. It is a by-product which is produced when the fuel doesn’t burn completely because the appliance isn’t working properly.

Common household examples include:

  • boilers
  • gas fires
  • gas cookers
  • central heating systems
  • open fires
  • water heaters
  • generators
  • barbecues
  • Aga’s or Rayburns.

It is important to install a carbon monoxide detector which conforms to British Standards. These are available at most hardware/DIY stores for around £20. Read the instructions carefully as to the positioning and warranty of the CO detector. You should also check that your carbon monoxide detector – as well as your smoke alarm – is working as it should be. This should be done regularly, not just when you’re reminded during Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week, but with the cold weather and more frequent use of your heating appliances, it is important that this safety measure is in place.

If you rent your home, whereas the same applies when it comes to maintaining your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors by regularly checking on them, it is your landlord that should take responsibility for ensuring they are there in the first place. As of 1 October 2015, the law states that both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms must be installed in rented residential accommodation. For more information on this, read our previous blog here.

The consequences of negligence when it comes to carbon monoxide safety can be severe, with around 40 deaths occurring as a result each year in the UK. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recently reported that a gas fitter from Montrose was sentenced to community payback after his incorrect installation of a boiler put the tenants’ lives in danger. As a result of the incompletely installed boiler, the tenants suffered headaches, dizziness and vomiting. When the tenant was found unresponsive in his bed, the hospital found his carbon monoxide level was 33.6, which would normally be expected to be zero. David Stott, the gas engineer, pleaded guilty. The anonymous tenants were lucky to be alive.

Tragically, this was not the case for Kelly Webster and Lauren Thornton who died from carbon monoxide poisoning on a boat in Windermere in April 2013. The owner of the boat, Matthew Eteson, a qualified Gas Safe engineer, fitted a faulty generator that resulted in fatal carbon monoxide poisoning. Eteson received a two year suspended sentence.

If you suffer carbon monoxide poisoning in your home or a public place, Slater and Gordon Lawyers represent people in all types of occupier’s liability compensation claims. For a free consultation call our no win, no fee solicitors on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online.

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