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According to a recent study from Energy UK, one in three UK residents do not have carbon monoxide alarms fitted in their homes, leaving them at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. The findings are astonishing when taking into account that from the 2,000 people questioned for the survey, 94 per cent claimed they were aware of the dangers of not having a CO alarm in their home. The survey formed part of the organisation’s ‘CO Be Alarmed’ campaign, and found that residents in Liverpool were most at risk, with around half claiming that they did not have a carbon monoxide alarm, at 47 per cent.

Leeds, Manchester and Norwich are also in the top ten cities which are most at risk, with more than 40 per cent of residents confessing that they have not installed a carbon monoxide alarm. Nottingham, Belfast, Plymouth, Birmingham, Newcastle and Bristol completed the list of top ten cities which are most at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning. Despite the fact that gas safety checks have been in place for a long time in the private rented sector, CO alarms are required by law to be installed only where solid fuel appliances are in use.

However, considering the fact that carbon monoxide can be potentially omitted from many common household appliances, for example, faulty or poorly maintained gas cookers or boilers, the majority of landlords choose to provide their renters with CO alarms regardless of whether solid fuel appliances are installed or not. Carbon monoxide is renowned as a silent killer, due to its lack of smell, taste and appearance, which is why it’s crucial to have a carbon monoxide alarm with an audible alert installed.

It is estimated that 30 people die in the UK each year from carbon monoxide poisoning, with a further 4,000 hospitalised. However, experts understand that the genuine number could be much higher as symptoms for CO poisoning can be easily mistaken for tiredness or flu. Energy UK’s director of external affairs, Abbie Sampson, explained that as snow and cold weather sweeps Britain, people turn their heating on, making the fact that so many residents do not have life-saving carbon monoxide alarms fitted even more worrying. For around £15, a CO alarm can protect residents from this silent killer. It is also vital that batteries are tested regularly if you do have an alarm, and that gas checks are conducted on any buy-to-let property.

The CO Be Alarmed campaign also highlighted simple steps that can be taken to ensure your tenants stay safe from poisoning by carbon monoxide. Ensure that carbon monoxide alarms are installed, which can be bought from high street shops or DIY stores inexpensively. Like a smoke or fire alarm, CO alarms must be checked regularly to ensure that the batteries are still working. It is also vital that gas appliances, such as the cooker and boiler, are serviced regularly by a professional. As a landlord, you should ensure that checks are conducted by an engineer that is Gas Safe registered. Also ensure that your tenants are aware of the signs of CO poisoning, which include dizziness, nausea and headaches. Make sure that there is good ventilation in the property from stoves and fires, with chimneys swept annually.

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