Tenants safer under new government measures

Landlords will be required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties, under measures announced by Housing Minister Brandon Lewis on 11 March 2015

The move will help prevent up to 26 deaths and 670 injuries a year.

The measure is expected to take effect from October 2015, and comes with strong support after a consultation on property condition in the private rented sector.

England's 46 fire and rescue authorities are expected to support private landlords in their own areas to meet their new responsibilities with the provision of free alarms, with grant funding from government.

This is part of wider government moves to ensure there are sufficient measures in place to protect public safety, while at the same time avoiding regulation which would push up rents and restrict the supply of homes, limiting choice for tenants.

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APPCOG inquiry report

The All Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group (APPCOG) has released a report which aims to bring behavioural insights to poisoning prevention efforts. Carbon Monoxide: From Awareness to Action is the result of a major inquiry involving evidence from industry, charities, research institutions and individuals on how the problem of CO poisoning can be tackled effectively. RoSPA gave evidence to the inquiry highlighting learning from the Be Gas Safe programme which used local partnerships to promote CO awareness and demonstrated success in saving lives and increasing awareness of the key safety messages.

Among the Reports key findings are that:

  • Awareness-raising matters – but as a starting point of a much longer process of behaviour change,
  • Data matters – successfully influencing behaviour requires better data than are currently at our disposal,
  • Context matters – successful interventions need a sophisticated understanding of people's environment, and,
  • Messengers matter – using trusted messengers at the right times, and with the right approach, can bring results.

Preventing poisoning incidents through a behavioural approach will require focussed and coordinated efforts from a range of organisations, including charities, government, public sector workers and industry bodies. The report advocates departmental ownership within government as important to drive through and lead initiatives such as data gathering and campaigning to ensure the population is kept safe.

The report can be found at:

Alert saves lives

Michael and Margaret Ayre, aged 80 and 78, from Chepstow, had been experiencing the symptoms of CO poisoning for some time, but they did not consider that they were being poisoned until they received the letter about gas safety by Care and Repair Monmouthshire as part of the Be Gas Safe programme.

Mrs Ayre said: "We had been waking up feeling sick and dizzy for a while but we just put it down to our age."

The couple phoned Care and Repair Monmouthshire and were advised to contact their gas supplier. Within an hour, an engineer had detected that CO was leaking from a boiler.

Mrs Ayre said that the consequences of not phoning would have been "very serious" and hopes that the couple's story will help to save other people's lives.

Faulty boiler

A family in Leicestershire has almost certainly been saved by a warning from a carbon monoxide alarm provided by the Safer Homes Programe. One of our local partners received the following report from the children's centre worker who had referred a family to the programme. Mum phoned to say that the CO alarm had activated and that she had called a gas safe registered engineer. She had been told by the engineer that if it had not been for the carbon monoxide alarm going off to warn the family they all could have died. The leak came from the boiler, which was condemned as a result of the family being warned!

Alert by CO alarm due to lack of ventilation


Louisa Jenkins has a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm to thank for not just saving her own life but that of her four-year-old daughter Betty too.

She was starting to doze off in front of the warmth of the wood burner at her Bristol home while her daughter slept upstairs in March when the CO alarm sounded, alerting her to a deadly situation.

Louisa said: "The wood burner had been on for about six hours and I was suddenly woken up by the CO alarm. I called the emergency number on the alarm and the man that came out explained that there were 700 parts per million of CO coming from the burner.

"If I hadn't heard the alarm, I would have been killed and my daughter would have either suffered the same fate or come down the next morning and found her mummy dead on the sofa. It doesn't bear thinking about.

Bruce Ballagher

"The carbon monoxide alarm completely saved my life and now I can't help but tell everyone I come across the importance of having one in their home."

Louisa had been given the alarm by Bruce Ballagher, from Des Walker Chimney Sweeps, who was taking part in the Be Gas Safe programme and has so far reached more than 12,000 people across Bristol with CO safety advice.

Bruce, (pictured left) who has also served with the police for nearly 30 years, said: "There is no doubt that without an alarm Louisa would not have woken from her doze. It turns out that between my visit to her home and the incident, a builder had installed a ventilation cowl (pictured above) on her live flue, which was completely and utterly dangerous.

"We constantly encounter unsafe appliances, flues where its integrity cannot be guaranteed, poor installations, and gas and solid fuel appliances without any hint of CO awareness. The value of the Be Gas Safe programme for us as very active chimney sweeps in a major city cannot be overstated.

"If we can help protect one or two people from CO poisoning each year, then that's a real impact."

Industry giants lead the way to prevent further deaths from CO


The UK's four main gas industry networks joined forces to deliver this year's carbon monoxide conference Knowledge is Power. Every year in the UK, 40 preventable deaths occur due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Knowledge is Power, hosted by The Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers (IGEM), aims to reduce this number to zero.

Supported by the Carbon Monoxide All Actions Forum the event highlighted the latest research, education and innovation technology in the fight against CO poisoning. It included a presentation from RoSPA celebrating the success of the Be Gas Safe Programme in saving lives and raising awareness.

IGEM Technical Services Manager Keith Needham said: "We in this country benefit from one of the safest gas networks in the world. Our behaviour towards the use of gas through our appliances and how these are maintained has to change. So we are demonstrating that knowledge really is power and that by equipping ourselves with the tools to keep homes and businesses safe, everyone has a role to play in preventing deaths and injuries from CO. It's great to have the full backing of the four industry gas distribution networks on such an important issue.

"Every death or injury from carbon monoxide poisoning is 100 per cent preventable. Now is the time to spread this crucial message."

The presentations from the conference can be viewed at:

Update from Chief Medical Officer: Recognise the symptoms and tackle the cause

02 December, 2013

The Chief Medical Officer for England, Dame Sally Davis, has issued updated advice on carbon monoxide safety to GPs, Hospital staff, Public Health consultants and others. This provides important background information for those involved in the Be Gas Safe programme and anyone working to promote carbon monoxide awareness.

To find out more, download the PDF.

New competition announced by CO-Gas Safety

30 August, 2013

CO-Gas Safety, a charity dedicated to promoting carbon monoxide safety has launched a competition inviting children to submit posters that put across simple messages about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and how to stay safe.

The charity has run the competition for a number of years with some very eye-catching posters being produced. The event is sponsored by a number of gas networks and there are cash prizes for the individual winners and for each winning school. Prize winners from each of four regions will be invited to receive their prizes at prestigious event at the House of Lords.

The competition has been launched to coincide with the start of the new school term and is open until July 31st next year. Teachers are invited to encourage their students to enter and a Powerpoint presentation is available on the CO-Gas Safety website to help them promote CO safety and the competition in their schools.

To find out more, download the PDF or visit

Carbon monoxide awareness programme - deadline extension

4 January, 2012

The deadline for organisations to register their interest in becoming local partners for a national carbon monoxide awareness programme has been extended until the end of the month.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and Gas Safe Charity are launching the Be Gas Safe programme to raise awareness of the “silent killer” and the steps that can be taken to prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Rolling out across England this year, the programme will see 10,000 families receiving a free CO detector and many more receiving safety information.

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RoSPA and Gas Safe Charity launch major co awareness programme

9 December, 2011

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and Gas Safe Charity are launching a major new programme to raise awareness of the "silent killer" - carbon monoxide - which will see 10,000 families receiving a free CO detector and many more receiving safety information.

The "Be Gas Safe" programme aims to make people aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) and the steps that can be taken to prevent CO poisoning, such as the need for regular servicing of fuel-burning appliances, good ventilation and the use of audible CO detectors.

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