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MINISTER TAKES CARBON MONOXIDE WARNING TO THE PEOPLE

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A roadshow alerting people to the dangers of carbon monoxide ...
A roadshow alerting people to the dangers of carbon monoxide

poisoning in the three regions with by far the worst fatality record

has been launched by consumer affairs minister Kim Howells. Over

the next few weeks the roadshow will visit Wales, the East Midlands

and the West Midlands.

Before launching the regional tour, Dr Howells said:

'Wales, the East Midlands and the West Midlands are three areas of

the country which have a disturbingly high incidence of carbon

monoxide deaths caused by faulty appliances, lack of adequate

ventilation and blocked flues and chimneys. It is for this reason

that we are drawing special attention to these areas. In addition to

safety warnings on gas bills, TV adverts and hard-hitting leaflets

(including millions in fuel bills), we are now bringing the warning

to the people.

'In the ten years between 1987 and 1996 43% of these carbon monoxide

deaths occurred in Wales, the East Midlands and the West Midlands.

That statistic is even more worrying when you consider that only 15%

of the population live in those three regions.'

The mobile roadshow, organised with the help of RoSPA (the Royal

Society for the Prevention of Accidents) will be in each of these

areas for one week and will be highlighting the dangers of carbon

monoxide poisoning, giving advice on how to spot the danger signs and

also advising on what preventative action can be taken to minimise

the risk of suffering from CO poisoning.

Dr Howells added:

'Awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and taking

preventative action are the best ways to avoid becoming a carbon

monoxide statistic. I am confident that by using the mobile roadshow

in bringing the warning messages to the people, together with all our

other publicity initiatives, the level of awareness of this deadly

gas will be raised significantly. I hope this, in turn, will lead to

a significant downturn in the death rates caused by carbon monoxide

poisoning from faulty appliances.'

Carbon monoxide poisoning is not just a problem for gas users.

People who use non-gas fuels such as oil, coal or wood should also be

aware of the dangers and the need for appliances to be properly

maintained.

The DTI's safety campaign is raising the awareness of CO poisoning

through:

* a safety warning on millions of gas bills during the winter

months

* TV adverts; leaflets in GP surgeries throughout the autumn and

winter

* millions of hard-hitting safety advice leaflets are being widely

distributed in fuel bills from January to March

Dr Howells also gave consumers the following advice:

* 'take care if you have moved house recently or moved into rented

accommodation - find out when the boiler, other appliances and flues

were last checked for safety and by whom

* 'if all your family are suffering from unexplained flu-like

symptoms contact your doctor - remember, it could be carbon monoxide

poisoning

* 'always make sure your heating systems are checked for safety once

a year by a competent engineer

* 'remember CO detectors are useful but they are only warning devices

and they are no substitute for regular safety checks. If you buy one

make sure it meets BS 7860;

* 'and look out for our leaflets in your gas bill and at your GP's

surgery.'

Notes

1. The Mobile Exhibition Unit will be open to the public at the

following places and will be manned by representatives from RoSPA,

local authorities, fire brigades and energy industry experts:

11-16 January 1999 - Cardiff

25-30 January 1999 - Birmingham

8-13 February 1999 - Nottingham

2. For further safety information contact: Gas - Health and Safety

Executive Gas Safety Advice Line, 0800 300 363; Solid Fuel (coal and

wood) - Solid Fuel Association, 0800 600 000; Oil - Oil Firing

Technical Association for the Petroleum Industry, 01737 373311.

3. Close collaboration with the gas industry has meant this there

is a safety message printed on 19 million gas bills. The message

reads: 'Government consumer safety warning. Carbon Monoxide poisoning

can kill. Get your appliances checked every year. Keep your family

safe.'

4. Safety leaflets will also be inserted into millions of gas bills

between January and March 1999. Leaflets will also be in GPs'

surgeries throughout the autumn and winter.

5. A chimney that has previously been used for another fuel should

be swept before a gas fire or boiler is fitted to it. It is not

necessary to sweep the chimney housing a gas fire every year. The gas

appliance should be maintained and checked for safety once a year by

a CORGI (Council for Registered Gas Installers) registered gas

installer in accordance with the manufacturers instructions. The

service will include a check on the chimney.

6. The CO warning leaflet is available from: DTI Publications

Orderline, ADMAIL 528, London SW1W 8YT. Orders can be faxed through

on 0870 1502333.

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