Our Focus » Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is tasteless and odourless so cannot be detected by smell. According to academic research accidental exposure to Carbon Monoxide kills on average 50 people every year in England and Wales alone and around 4,000 are diagnosed at A&E departments with CO poisoning. In the Netherlands there was a CO-prevention campaign in februari 2017. During the campaign (two weeks) there were 8 deaths and more than 100 injured caused by CO-poisoning in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. And this were only the deaths and injured published in headlines in Dutch media. The real number is expected to be much higher.

Causes and groups at risk

Cooking and heating appliances, as well as gas boilers and such things as wood burning stoves in the home, can produce Carbon Monoxide to dangerous levels if not working properly. They can also be the cause of serious fires.

Unfortunately, those most likely to have high levels of CO in their homes are those who live in the poorer areas of the community and do not have the economic resources to heat their homes safely. This problem often affects older people living in large properties as well.

Recognize and prevent

Many lives could be saved if citizens could learn to recognize the causus and symptoms and prevent the dangers of CO poisoning. Therefore, it is necessary to increase awareness raising efforts to make sure citizens are aware of the peril, recognize the symptoms and take all the necessary measures to prevent CO from escaping from heating and cooking appliances in their homes. For example, fitting a CO detector and performing a yearly checkup of the heating system is highly recommended.

The European Fire Safety Alliance believes that this is an important issue, which is often affecting the most vulnerable in our community, and calls on EU policy makers to explore what initiatives could be undertaken to address this problem.