'After discussions with British Gas about the benefits of installing detectors, we put forward the proposal to our members back in March,' said Bernie Keenan, housing services manager.
'The health and safety of our tenants is obviously one of the council's main concerns. We were one of the first councils in the country to install smoke detectors in all our tenanted dwellings and we feel this issue is just as important. It will improve the safety of our tenants and will also set the standard for other housing providers. Already, local housing associations have indicated a wish to pilot the use of Carbon Monoxide detectors and we are actively promoting their use in private housing'.
There is no doubt that the most effective way of reducing the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is to ensure that all gas appliances are properly and regularly serviced. The council employs a fully qualified local contractor to ensure that all its appliances are serviced regularly, every year. The standard of their work has been excellent and there is no reason to believe that any problems exist.
The housing committee has set aside£43,500 for the scheme, with the intention of safeguarding tenants against toxic gas, which nationally kills about 30 people a year.
3,000 detectors at a cost of£10.50 + fitting each will be fitted by the Council's servicing contractor to around 3,000 homes. Any surplus detectors will be available at cost to the leaseholders of formal council flats and also by arrangement with Housing Associations and the tenants.
Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, tasteless and toxic gas produced as a by-product of combustion. Any fuel burning appliance, vehicle, tool or other device has the potential to produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide gas. Examples of carbon monoxide producing devices commonly in use around the home include: Fuel fired furnaces (non-electric), gas water heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves, gas cookers, gas dryers, etc.
Carbon monoxide inhibits the blood's ability to carry oxygen to body tissues including vital organs such as the heart and brain. Symptoms vary widely based on exposure level, duration and the general health and age of the individual. Recurrent themes include headaches, dizziness and nausea. These 'flu-like' symptoms are often mistaken for a real case of the flu and can result in delayed or misdiagnosed treatment. When experienced in conjunction with the sounding of a reliable carbon monoxide detector these symptoms are the best indicator that a potentially serious build up of carbon monoxide exists.