New research reveals over 80% of UK adults could be at risk of mistaking carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms for a different illness such as a cold, flu, or hangover.

The findings are released as part of new national campaign from the Gas Safe Register - Better Gas Safe Than Sorry - to help improve public awareness of carbon monoxide poisoning. The data reveals that more than three quarters (82%) of people are unlikely to consider CO poisoning as the possible cause of a headache and nausea. This is despite these symptoms being two of the most common signs of exposure to the poisonous gas.

The research, which involved 3,000 UK adults, suggests that most people don’t realise that the effects of CO exposure may not be severe. Only one in five (20%) respondents said they’d be aware of a carbon monoxide leak in their home if they felt unwell, as opposed to seriously unwell.

These findings are particularly concerning as latest figures show that 5.5 million homes in the UK are known to have unsafe gas appliances, such as gas boilers, cookers, or gas fires which can lead to carbon monoxide leaking. Even more worryingly, only 20% of those surveyed said they always stop using a faulty gas appliance until it is fixed and just 42% get their gas appliances serviced every year by a Gas Safe-registered engineer.

The Better Gas Safe Than Sorry launch event at the Bullring Shopping Centre in Birmingham featured an emergency butty van that shared potentially life-saving information. One of the UK’s favourite breakfast hangover foods - the bacon butty (and non-meat alternatives) - was shared with passers-by as a way of highlighting the similarity between hangover symptoms and the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning – a parallel recognised by only 40% of UK adults.

Jonathan Samuel, Chief Executive, Gas Safe Register said: “It is really important to be better gas safe than sorry. Staying safe includes being aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. If people are suffering from ‘hangover-like’ symptoms, such as headaches or nausea but haven’t been drinking - which is even more likely in January - it is important to consider carbon monoxide poisoning alongside other possible causes.”

“We would also like to urge everyone to help protect themselves and their loved ones by getting their gas appliances safety checked every year by a Gas Safe registered engineer”.

Paul Hull, a Gas Safe-registered engineer who is supporting the campaign, said: “Carbon monoxide poisoning is extremely serious, but preventable. To avoid being exposed to carbon monoxide in the first place, it is vital people get their gas appliances checked every year by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Always ask and check your engineer’s ID card and make sure that it is in date. If you have any doubts check the Gas Safe Register website to ensure the engineer is registered.”