Shocking new data has revealed that cases of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning (also known as the silent killer) are rising in Sussex, despite the efforts of campaigners to encourage people to protect themselves with an alarm.
Recent Freedom of Information (FOI) requests have shown a 25 per cent rise in recorded incidents of suspected poisoning at NHS Trusts in Sussex with the young and elderly most affected.
Worryingly, cases of poisoning in children were up by 75 per cent and cases amongst the over 60s had increased by 50 per cent.
The data obtained by Project SHOUT, a campaign group designed to raise awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide, measured recorded cases year-on-year from July 2014 to June 2016.
There were 45 incidents in 2015/16 (compared to 36 the previous year), with an average of one person attending A&E every single week with suspected carbon monoxide poisoning.
On a national level, there was a 10 per cent rise in recorded incidents of suspected CO poisoning, with cases of CO poisoning in children up by 20 per cent and cases amongst the over 60s increasing by 17 per cent.
Rob Lyon, campaign director for Project SHOUT, said: “These numbers are very concerning, particularly the rise in cases amongst the most vulnerable, namely children and the elderly. Carbon monoxide poisoning can only be detected by an alarm as you can’t see, smell or taste it. Children and older people are particularly at risk because their bodies are more susceptible and in the case of some older people, are less likely to keep their appliances serviced.”
Carbon monoxide is emitted when fuel doesn’t burn properly and can be caused when an appliance is incorrectly fitted or poorly maintained. Common causes of carbon monoxide poisoning include gas fires, cookers and boilers; open fires and log burners; BBQs; and oil heaters.
In October 2015, legislation came into force that required private landlords to fit a carbon monoxide alarm in every property that had a solid fuel burning appliance, such as an open fire or log burner. The legislation however does NOT cover gas appliances such as a gas boiler or gas hob.
Approximately 50 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning, all of which can be prevented by fitting an alarm.
For further information and advice on being carbon monoxide safe, visit www.projectshout.com.