Government announced a review of current regulations on carbon monoxide, with particular focus on the safety of tenants in rented accommodation, at the House of Lords this week.
Communities & Local Government Minister, Baroness Stowell of Beeston confirmed that tougher rules could be introduced to protect tenants from faulty gas appliances as part of proposed changes to the Energy Bill.
Home safety products specialist, Sprue Safety Products, has welcomed the announcement, which it says would provide much better protection for householders, especially those rented accommodation.
Nick Rutter, managing director of Sprue Safety Products, said: “This is welcome progress in the drive to reduce preventable deaths and poisoning incidents from this deadly gas. It suggests that at last, CO is being recognised for the real threat it poses to thousands every year.”
Northern Ireland took the lead last year by introducing tougher legislation to protect more people against the risks of CO, making CO alarms mandatory wherever a new or replacement combustion appliance is installed in a home - regardless of the fuel type - with Scotland now following suit.
Proper installation and regular servicing of all gas and fossil fuel appliances should dramatically reduce the risk of fire and CO, but Gas Safe Register estimates that although there is awareness appliances need to be safety checked annually, one in three Britons – around 8 million people - don’t do it.
Many assume they’re not at risk because they don’t have a boiler, but any appliance that burns fuel produces CO and, worryingly, CO can also enter a property from adjoining buildings. With no smell or taste, the gas is completely undetectable and symptoms can be mistaken for other ailments, such as the flu or a hangover.
People living in rented properties can be at greater risk, as cooking and heating appliances are often older or misused. Landlords have a duty of care to their tenants and by law must ensure all appliances are safety checked as well as give tenants a copy of their gas safety record.
With the cold weather upon us and fuel costs increasing, some householders are taking drastic measures, which could cost lives. Blocking flues, chimneys and vents have become common tactics in a bid to keep heat in and running costs down, but in doing so, any potentially fatal CO could become sealed inside their home.
People need to understand the potentially devastating consequences of leaving heating appliances unchecked. Too many are putting themselves and their tenants at risk by failing to have them professionally serviced regularly.