With all the different days for this and weeks for that it is not surprising that few people are aware that today signals the start of 'Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week'.
52 year old widow Lynn Griffiths founded this charity in 2005 to raise the awareness of the general public to the dangers of this 'silent killer'. Her four children have suffered long term illness due to the effects of exposure to carbon monoxide and she is looking to politicians and the media to help her with this cause.
Over the week Lynn will tour the UK, her first stop being London to meet Graham Evans the Weaver Vale MP.
Most people associate the dangers of Carbon Monoxide poisoning with badly installed or maintained gas appliances, but this is not the full story. The Gas Safety Trust in their “Carbon Monoxide Hotspot Report“ says that CO poisoning may be far more widespread than thought. The reason they put forward for this is 'symptom blur', the concept that many cases of CO poisoning are basically misdiagnosed. This leads to CO not being given its true risk position in our lives.
CO is also not a danger just restricted to the use of gas. It can also be found where other fossil fuels and oils are used.
About twenty people a year die from CO from faulty gas appliances (source HSE) and as many as fifty when taking other causes into account.
Lynn is therefore trying to get the message through to all potential suppliers and users of gas, oil, wood and coal as well as healthcare providers.
Carbon monoxide is colourless, tasteless and odourless. It is also highly toxic! Symptoms from exposure to CO include headaches, dizziness, tiredness and nausea, which can actually be mistaken for flu, a virus and food poisoning. If you are at all worried that you are suffering from CO poisoning open the widows and vacate the premises taking everyone else with you then contact your GP.
To safeguard yourself from any potential harm make sure your appliances are checked at least annually by a properly qualified gas engineer (the gas safe register) and get a carbon monoxide detector for your home.