Carbon monoxide poisoning: Who is most at risk?

Protecting vulnerable or low-income households this winter

As winter approaches and the nights draw in, we are all trying to stay warm at home. With increased use of fuel burning appliances such as log burners or gas boilers, we are all at greater risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. With over 4000 people attending A&E departments due to carbon monoxide poisoning in England each year, are some households more at risk than others?

Staying safe in the dead of winter

Dr Sotiris Vardoulakis 1 from Public Health England stated that many deaths relating to CO poisoning occur between November and February due to faulty fossil fuel and wood burning appliances leaking this lethal gas. He urges everyone to have their solid fuel burning appliances checked by a registered engineer before the start of winter and to have a suitable carbon monoxide alarm installed in each room containing an appliance.

Kidde carbon monoxide alarm placed near a gas fire
Kidde carbon monoxide alarm located near a gas fire

Who is most at risk?

Recent studies have shown that lower income households are more at risk of CO poisoning. Research carried out by the National Energy Action charity and the Gas Safety Trust found that 35% of low income and vulnerable households surveyed exceeded the 10ppm threshold for carbon monoxide levels. This threshold indicates levels of CO that are harmful with prolonged exposure, having adverse effects on the body and brain.

Why are low income and vulnerable households more at risk? 

There is shown to be a direct correlation between fuel poverty and carbon monoxide poisoning. Lower income households are often reliant on older boilers to heat their homes. These are often less efficient and carry a greater risk of emitting CO gas if not properly serviced and maintained. Some households in this category did not have a central heating system and were reliant on smaller, often older heaters or even gas stoves or cookers to heat their homes.

Research carried out by Dr Andy Shaw from Liverpool John Moores University found that deprived areas were less likely to own an audible CO alarm than homes in non-deprived areas, further increasing the risk of CO poisoning. As these households are more at risk of the presence of CO gas, having a detector is vital. CO gas is otherwise undetectable by humans without the presence of a CO detector due to it having no colour, taste or smell.

Over 60s were also found to be particularly vulnerable to CO poisoning. This could be attributed to the likelihood of them spending more time at home and feeling the cold, resulting in the need to use an appliance more regularly to stay warm. Elderly people, or those with respiratory problems are also more at risk from the effects of carbon monoxide, becoming ill more quickly. With symptoms being similar to those of flu or food poisoning, a headache, nausea and dizziness may be attributed to those common illnesses rather than to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Headache or dizziness is a symptom of co poisoning
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can easily be mistaken for flu or a common cold or sickness bug

Other groups shown to be disproportionately affected by CO poisoning include pregnant women, young children, anyone with an existing respiratory condition and elderly people.

Common symptoms to look out for

Otherwise known as ‘the silent killer’, carbon monoxide can cause severe symptoms and even death if not detected quickly. Look out for these symptoms in yourself or others:

Symptoms of CO Poisoning

Supporting those most at risk

We can all play our part to ensure that vulnerable people and lower income households are protected against carbon monoxide poisoning. By ensuring that everyone follows these simple guidelines, we can help to protect ourselves and our communities.

  1. Be in the know about CO. Would you be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of CO poisoning? Learn how to spot the dangers, signs and symptoms of CO poisoning and help to educate those around you. Findings by the Gas Safe Register2 in 2019 revealed that only one in five respondents said they would be aware of a carbon monoxide leak in their homes if they felt unwell.
  2. Have your gas or solid fuel appliances serviced regularly. According to the latest UK inspection figures from Gas Safe Register, 5.5 million homes in the UK have unsafe gas appliances. When did you last have your appliance checked?
  3. Install a CO alarm where required. It is recommended that a carbon monoxide alarm be installed in every room in the house containing an appliance that could leak CO gas.  Is your home covered? Check with vulnerable friends, family or neighbours to see if they need help installing a carbon monoxide alarm.

The All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group (APPCOG) is calling for protection for the most vulnerable households in England to be a priority. Their recommendations include making it mandatory for CO alarms to be installed in every property whether it be private rented, social housing or owner-occupied. Scotland is introducing new regulations next year which include a stipulation to fit a carbon monoxide alarm in every home. It is hoped that other countries within the UK will follow suit.

Further information and advice on carbon monoxide poisoning including the signs and symptoms, and what to do in a CO emergency can be found on our information page. You can also download our printable information sheet which can be placed in a prominent place in your home. Or, why not give it to, or talk it through with anyone who you think could be vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning. This resource contains an action plan for what to do if a CO alarm sounds and what symptoms to look out for as well as general awareness.

Download our information sheet and share with relatives or friends

References:

  1. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/reduce-the-risk-of-carbon-monoxide-poisoning-over-winter
  2. https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/news/news-2020/over-80-of-uk-adults-at-risk-of-missing-hangover-like-carbon-monoxide-poisoning-symptoms/

Working towards a greener and more sustainable future

solar panels on the office roof generate 80% of our total energy usage
1000sqm solar panels have been installed on our warehouse roof

At Safelincs, sustainability is one of our core brand values which we take very seriously. The global challenge of reducing carbon emissions is huge, but we believe that every company and individual can make a difference. That is why, at Safelincs, we aim to work towards a greener and more sustainable future by making progress on issues such as recyclable packaging, renewable energy supply, sustainable transport and waste reduction. We also encourage our staff to engage with smaller changes such as protecting our own green spaces and providing our staff with palm oil-free chocolate and fair trade coffee.

Renewable energy

Our site is powered by 100% renewable electricity and we have made use of our large warehouse roofs to install 1000sqm of solar panels which provides 60% of our total electricity usage. New dynamic heating thermostats in each office space allows staff to better regulate the temperature in their environment instead of opening doors and windows. We have just replaced our gas boilers with the latest condensing technology and invested in LED lighting throughout the site and low energy computers which helps us to reduce energy consumption.

We are excited to have recently added our first fully electric car – a Tesla 3 – to our fleet of company vehicles. The Tesla will be mainly powered from an onsite charging point during peaktime of solar PV production, making it a genuine environmental option. We hope to increase our number of electric vehicles, eventually working towards a completely ‘green’ fleet.

Our new Tesla-3, a fully electric company car
Tesla-3 – our first fully electric company car

Partnering to reduce plastic packaging

We feel strongly about reducing plastic packaging and have been working hard with suppliers to ensure that, where possible, plastic is eliminated. We encourage our partners to supply us with products packaged using cardboard. We have also largely eliminated the use of plastic packaging materials and are using almost exclusively cardboard for all packaging. Our padding materials are produced inhouse by two specialist shredding/wrinkling machines that use the cardboard received into the company.

Our packaging boxes are made from recycled card
Recycled card packing boxes in our warehouse

Waste reduction

Our staff understand the importance of recycling and re-using across our business. Any new starter is introduced to our waste management systems including our multiple recycling bins and our process regarding re-usable batteries. We aim to educate and inform employees in any environmental issues that may affect their work. For example, we work with a member of the team in charge of office supplies to ensure that any stationary items ordered only contain recycled paper. Safelincs challenges its team members to find new ways in which we can collectively work towards a more sustainable future.

Safelincs also contribute to Valpak’s WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Distributer Take-Back Scheme. Our monetary contribution helps local authorities across the UK to increase the rate of collection, re-use and recycling of electrical equipment.

Innovation in product development

We are mindful that within the fire safety industry there are environmental challenges and are always on the look out for alternatives. For example, we promote long-lasting products such as the range of P50 fire extinguishers which only need re-filling every ten years rather than the standard 5 years. They also have an impressive 20-year lifespan and are also service-free, saving engineer travel year after year.

Our range of Water Mist Fire Extinguishers is something that we are proud of. These extinguishers are totally environmentally friendly containing 100% de-ionised water which is delivered in microscopic droplets to extinguish flames. These extinguishers are very versatile and can even be used on electrical fires. They are fully recyclable and contain no chemicals meaning that they are non-toxic to humans or wildlife. They also leave no mess or residue to clean up after use.

Every little helps!

Fair trade coffee, tea and chocolate and locally sourced fruit for the office staff.
Fair trade Staff Room supplies!

As well as working towards a sustainable future with our bigger initiatives, we also work with our staff to make smaller, more environmental changes in many areas. Our staff room is always stocked with free fruit, sourced from our local greengrocer, fair trade coffee, plastic-free tea bags and palm oil free chocolate. No one goes hungry! But, by encouraging these practices in the workplace, we hope that by leading by example, our employees will adopt some of these little environmental wins at home.

Safelincs are lucky to have green space on our site and recently staff braved the rain to plant wildflower seed which we hope will encourage bees and other insects to visit in the warmer months. Very soon, we plan to plant trees on our site to further create a natural area to be enjoyed by staff and nature!

Making the most of our green space - creating a wildflower garden
Creating a wildflower garden on site

Sustainability vs profitability

Environmental alternatives often require an upfront investment. But in the longer term this can be much more cost effective. The cost saving benefits of solar panels, LED lighting and electric cars for example will be substantial in the long run and is an investment that we think is well worth making. We are dramatically reducing our environmental footprint by introducing these measures and the long term cost savings are an added benefit.

As we move towards becoming a carbon neutral company, Safelincs strives to integrate environmental considerations into all aspects of decision making and activity. We appreciate the importance of sustainability and hope to inspire our staff and local community to join us in championing a more environmental way of operating.


Are you in danger in your own home? Join the fight for a Gas Safe Nation

In light of the Covid 19 pandemic, safety is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. We all know that hand washing and basic hygiene are an essential part of life in 2020, but how many of us can be absolutely sure that our homes are gas safe? With Gas Safety Week celebrating its tenth year in 2020, it’s time to make sure that you, your friends and family are safe in your own homes.

Protect family and help them to get gas safe at home
Help loved ones and vulnerable individuals to get gas safe

Are you at risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Do you have a gas fire, gas boiler or gas oven? Frighteningly, statistics published by Gas Safety Week show that 1 in 2 gas fires inspected by a Gas Safe Engineer are unsafe. Carbon Monoxide emissions from a poorly fitted, poorly ventilated or faulty gas appliance can be deadly or have severe side effects. Carbon monoxide is odourless and colourless meaning that without a detector, it is very difficult to detect its presence.

There are 2 simple steps to follow to protect yourselves, your family and friends:

  1. Have your gas appliances checked and serviced every year by a Gas Safe Engineer. You can find a gas safety engineer near you here. Check to see if loved ones and vulnerable friends or neighbours have a gas safety certificate that is up to date.
  2. Install an audible carbon monoxide alarm and make sure your friends and relatives have one too. Check that they are marked EN50291 and display the British Standards’ Kitemark. You can find a great selection here that are suitable for use at home.

Common cold or Carbon monoxide poisoning?

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are much like those of a common cold or flu to begin with but can ultimately lead to a coma and death. Headaches, nausea, dizziness, a sore throat or dry cough are all common complaints, but could be as a result of exposure to CO gas. If friends, family or loved ones complain of these symptoms, seem confused or are drowsy and are having trouble breathing, you need to be alert. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, open all the windows and doors and leave your home immediately. Turn off any appliances that are in use and turn the gas off at the mains if you can. Call the Gas Emergency Services on 0800 111 999 as soon as you can. You should seek medical help straight away if you think that anyone in your household has carbon monoxide poisoning.

Identify symptoms of CO poisoning

Gas safety and Covid 19

There may be some nervousness about engineers visiting your home due to the spread of infection during the current pandemic. Tradesman have strict guidelines to follow set out by the government, but if you are worried you should check what measures your Gas Safe Engineer will be putting in place when he or she visits your home. It is important to proceed with your annual check if you can as you could be putting your family in danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. With some Covid 19 restrictions still in place, and many people working remotely, we are all spending more time at home. It is now as important as ever to make your home a safe place for you and your family.

Good carbon monoxide detector to use at home
Digital Display Carbon Monoxide Alarm 10 Yr Life – Kidde 5DCO

Protect loved ones with a carbon monoxide detector

If you have vulnerable or elderly friends, relatives or neighbours, why not give them peace of mind and help them to install a carbon monoxide detector? Carbon monoxide can travel through adjoining walls and so even if you are absolutely sure that all the appliances in your home are gas safe, a detector is the only way to have complete peace of mind. Many detectors have a long life and so remain reliable for long periods and with options for audio and visual cues, there is an alarm suitable for everyone. All of our Kidde battery-operated alarms are available for FREE delivery, so you can have them delivered directly to loved ones for no extra cost and with free standing options available and the battery included on many models, they can be up and running immediately on arrival. Why not browse the range here?

Gas Safety Week challenges us all to think about making our homes as safe from the dangers of gas as possible. For more information and advice, head to the gas safety week website. Or, for more information on CO alarms, please contact our customer care team on 0800 612 6537.

Is Your Holiday Home Protected From The ‘Silent Killer’? Carbon Monoxide Responsibilities For Accommodation Providers

When someone books a holiday, what features do they look for? Maybe a hot tub, fire pit or log burner for that little bit of luxury? A carbon monoxide detector might not be top of the list, but with carbon monoxide (CO), or the ‘Silent Killer’ responsible for around 60 accidental deaths every year in England and Wales, ensuring your holiday accommodation is CO safe should be a priority. Did you know that as a holiday home owner in England, you have a legal responsibility to comply with regulations relating to carbon monoxide safety? Holiday-makers want to have peace of mind that their safety is a top priority when booking a holiday, and carbon monoxide safety is no exception.

Why is carbon monoxide dangerous?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a highly poisonous gas with no smell or taste and can be difficult to detect without the aid of a carbon monoxide detector. Symptoms such as tiredness, shortness of breath, nausea and headaches can be easily mistaken for flu or food poisoning. However, after exposure to high levels for 2 hours, the person may become unconscious and could die from this poisonous gas. With such sudden consequences, early detection is critical.

Accommodation providers: Your responsibilities

CO gas is produced by the incomplete burning of fuels containing carbon, for example coal, wood, gas or charcoal. A build-up in emissions of CO gas can come from:
• Faulty gas appliances
• Fuel burning stoves, open fires or BBQs used in poorly ventilated areas
• Running a car engine in an enclosed space.

Holiday Home Owners, like landlords, have a responsibility to ensure that their properties are compliant with the regulations Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015. These regulations state that a carbon monoxide detector should be fitted in any room that has a solid fuel burning appliance such as a log burner or open fire. Whilst not a legal requirement, it is also advisable to install a detector in any room with a gas or oil burning appliance such as a boiler or oven. You should also check and log all smoke and CO alarms on change-over day for added peace on mind.

The maintenance of gas appliances in all properties is also of paramount importance. The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 outlines the legal duties of self-catering accommodation providers to ensure the safety of any guests. All gas appliances should be installed and checked annually by a Gas Safe Engineer. Accommodation providers need to ensure adequate ventilation throughout the holiday accommodation. This is of particular importance in caravans, lodges and tents or glamping pods.

Provide information for your tenants

With frequent change-over of tenants and short-term occupancy, it may also help to provide a factsheet with guidance on carbon monoxide safety. Information such as how to locate and turn off the mains gas supply, what to do if the carbon monoxide alarm goes off or who to contact in an emergency may prove invaluable. Some tenants will be unfamiliar with gas appliances and general advice on how to use them safely could be useful.

Furthermore, unlike some smoke alarms that are prone to false triggers, a CO alarm is very unlikely to go off unless it detects carbon monoxide. False alarms are very unlikely and residents should be advised to act immediately and assume it is an emergency situation. Many people are not aware of the CO emissions from BBQs and camp fires. Cosy fires and family BBQs can prove deadly if emissions are allowed to accumulate in a tent, glamping pod or caravan. Campsites or caravan sites are advised to alert campers to the possible dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning from these activities.

Confidence in the UK holiday market

With the trend in UK ‘staycations’ looking set to continue into next year, ensuring the safety of guests in all accommodation will only help to increase confidence in UK holidays. Families should have peace of mind that their safety is of the utmost importance. There are many options for carbon monoxide alarms including combined or separate smoke and CO alarms, audible and visual cues and fixed or portable units. The requirement of each accommodation type varies depending on size, risks and structure.

The Kidde 7DCO alarm is a great solution for most providers as it is Kitemarked as safe for use in all domestic situations as well as in caravans, boats and tents. Its 10-year lifespan, digital display and option for free-standing or wall-mounting makes it a reliable and flexible option. And, with readings taken every 15 seconds and displayed on the digital panel, guests would have complete peace of mind that they are protected from the ‘silent killer’.

A suitable carbon monoxide alarm
Digital Display Carbon Monoxide Alarm 10 Yr Warranty – Kidde 7DCO

If you are an accommodation provider and would like more information, please contact our customer care team on 0800 612 6537.

Disposable Face Shields

In pubs, receptions and public places staff frequently wear face masks covering nose and mouth to protect themselves and the public against the spread of airborne germs and viruses. This is usually sufficient to offer reasonable protection. However, what happens if a member of the public falls ill and the member of staff has to provide support or even first aid?

Disposable face shield protects against  airborne germs, bacteria, and viruses.
Disposable face shield protects against airborne germs, bacteria, and viruses

A face mask on its own is not sufficient protection if the ill person coughs or sneezes. Droplets could easily infect the first aider through their eyes or where the mask does not fully seal around the mouth and nose. In such cases a face shield is required. However, in places of work where there are multiple staff members it is impractical to store hard plastic face shields for such an emergency. The risk of cross-contamination is just too high and these hard plastic face shields need periodical sanitising to ensure they stay safe to use. Safelincs’ disposable face shields provide the ideal solution. They can be stored flat and can be rapidly deployed in an emergency. They offer a good field of vision, protect the entire face and do not slip even when kneeling down or moving rapidly.

After use they can simply be disposed of without having to clean them, preventing the risk of cross infection and spreading viruses such as COVID-19. They are supplied in packs of 20 and are very economic starting from £0.30 per shield. Please contact Safelincs if you have any questions or would like to trial these shields. Telephone 0800 612 6537 or email support@safelincs.co.uk.

Harry Dewick-Eisele

Harry Dewick-Eisele

Managing Director

MD and founder of Safelincs. Harry has a wealth of in-depth knowledge of all aspects of fire safety and related legislation.

Safelincs Celebrates the Return of Furloughed Staff

Safelincs Pompom Tree

Like many other companies, we had to furlough a significant number of our staff when the lockdown started to ensure the safe survival of the company. Now, three months after the lockdown began we have managed to bring back the majority of the team and it is hoped that the three part-time staff who are currently on furlough will be able to return to work in the next few days and weeks. Strong domestic sales as well as a number of large projects such as the Nightingale Hospitals helped to bridge the lockdown and a strong recovery is underway. People from all departments supported the sales team to handle the demand. A particular point of pride is that the company has been able to commence with a new member of staff who had been interviewed just before the lockdown began.

Throughout lockdown staff and their families were involved in initiatives to keep in touch and one of these initiatives was to make pompoms that have now been brought together on an 80ft long garland. This amazing garland has now been hung onto the company’s huge cedar tree to celebrate reaching the current milestones.  

Angie Dewick-Eisele

Angie Dewick-Eisele

Marketing Manager

Angie has been our marketing manager since joining in 2002. She also has a keen interest in H&S issues.

Getting ready to go back to work- COVID-19 assessment tips

The Government is now advising businesses to start going back to work if they are unable to work from home but they must put procedures in place to protect their staff and customers. For some businesses, this is a daunting thought, and knowing what to take into consideration can be a minefield. Here are some useful tips to help you make your COVID-19 risk assessment.

Warehouse staff wearing a face mask for personal protection.

Social distancing and PPE

Current guidelines state that a distance of at least 2 meters between people should be enforced, using markers on floors to provide a guide can be as simple as using coloured tape on the floor or you can use specially made floor markings with advisory text on them. Having a visual guide helps staff to know how far away they are from each other and gives confidence that they are a safe distance.

If for some reason, you are unable to adhere to the 2 meter rule you must supply PPE, such as masks and gloves for staff. Make sure that these are easily accessible and that everyone knows how to correctly wear the mask. You should also supply hand sanitiser at these PPE stations. Having a dedicated sanitisation stand may be a simple option to ensuring that the correct PPE is available at the right locations. Staff should be given clear instructions as to when to change gloves and masks to ensure that these items of PPE do not become contaminated.

Reducing group staff numbers

It may be necessary to look at reducing the number of staff you have working in the same area. Assessing if any of your staff can continue to work from home can help with this, but you need to be mindful that home workers have the correct equipment and that you are still taking their health and safety seriously. Providing these staff members with a home working fire safety kit will ensure that all fire and first aid risks are covered.

Be creative and look at different shift patterns, you may be surprised at suggestions put forward by your staff, so include them in your decision making. Look at the pros and cons of these new shifts, increasing the day to a 12-hour shift may sound daunting but with the balance of more days off in the week this is a really good compromise.

If you are unsure which infection control products are suitable for you, give our customer care team a call for advice 0800 612 6537.

Angie Dewick-Eisele

Angie Dewick-Eisele

Marketing Manager

Angie has been our marketing manager since joining in 2002. She also has a keen interest in H&S issues.

NHS staff discount, a little something to say thanks

To say thank you to all our care workers, for all your hard work and dedication during this pandemic, we are offering you a 15% discount on all our products.

We can offer you over 6000 fire and safety products and services to help protect you and your family, including smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, fire escape ladders, as well as first aid and burns kits. We also offer free services such as our smoke alarm testing reminder service to ensure that your alarms are in good working order and ready to alert you in the event of a fire.

To access this offer you can either use this form or go to the Blue Light Card website.

You help keep us healthy, we want to help keep you safe.

Angie Dewick-Eisele

Angie Dewick-Eisele

Marketing Manager

Angie has been our marketing manager since joining in 2002. She also has a keen interest in H&S issues.

A way to maintain your extinguishers and minimise the risk of infection

For many businesses finding alternative ways of working is becoming second nature as we look at ways to operate our businesses while minimising the risk of contracting Coronavirus. Maintaining your fire safety is one issue that must be addressed in this new environment. Traditional extinguishers require a qualified service engineer to visit your premises to test the extinguishers, putting you and your staff at risk. The P50 service-free extinguisher eliminates the need for a site visit and will save you money too!

P50 extinguishers can help you minimise the risk of infection

The unique construction of the P50 extinguisher means that you do not need to arrange for a service engineer to attend your site, instead, after watching a detailed training video, you will be able to carry out the annual visual inspection for your extinguishers. This gives you confidence that you are not introducing new risks of infection and addresses concerns whether visitors to your site adhere to your company’s social distancing rules.

There are plenty of additional benefits, too. P50 extinguishers have a ten-year life span before they need to be refurbished for a further ten years. They are kinder to the environment as they do not require a discharge and re-fill like a traditional extinguisher after five years and because they are made from 100% recyclable materials.  As you no longer have any service engineer fees to pay and the extinguisher has an extended lifespan, you will save over 50% of your usual costs per extinguisher.

To find out more about the P50 visit https://www.safelincs.co.uk/britannia-fireworld-service-free-fire-extinguishers/ or call 0800 612 653

Angie Dewick-Eisele

Angie Dewick-Eisele

Marketing Manager

Angie has been our marketing manager since joining in 2002. She also has a keen interest in H&S issues.

Fantastic Service, Despite COVID-19

It has been heartwarming to receive so many comments from our customers telling us that we are delivering a fantastic service despite all the restrictions that COVID-19 places on us.

We have put a lot of new processes in place to ensure that we are meeting all the guidelines and protecting our staff. Despite the vast majority of our 60 strong team now working from home we have maintained the exceptional service that makes Safelincs an award-winning company.

Here is what our customers say:

Whilst the difficulties that Covid-19 present are challenging we will continue to supply essential safety products and services to organisations and domestic customers to support and protect people.

Contact us today on 0800 612 6537 with your fire safety needs.

Angie Dewick-Eisele

Angie Dewick-Eisele

Marketing Manager

Angie has been our marketing manager since joining in 2002. She also has a keen interest in H&S issues.