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
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
The DTI's safety campaign is raising the awareness of CO poisoning
* a safety warning on millions of gas bills during the winter
* TV adverts; leaflets in GP surgeries throughout the autumn and
* 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
* '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
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
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.