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Major co awareness programme launched to tackle gas safety

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and Gas Safe Charity have launched a major new programme to raise awareness of carbon monoxide (CO) which will see 10,000 families receive a free CO detector and many more get safety information.
The 'Be Gas Safe' programme aims to make people aware of the dangers of CO and the steps that can be taken to prevent CO poisoning, such as regular servicing of fuel-burning appliances, good ventilation and the use of audible CO detectors.

Organisations that have regular and direct contact with key risk groups (particularly families with young children and older people) are now being sought to become local partners to help deliver the programme across England. Priority will be given to organisations in areas where there has been a higher incidence of carbon monoxide poisoning per head of population.

Each year in England and Wales, there are around 50 accidental deaths, 200 non-fatal poisonings that require hospital admission and 4,000 visits to A&E that result from CO poisoning, according to figures quoted by the Department of Health. Children and older people are particularly at risk.

With gas appliances and flues that have not been properly installed, maintained or ventilated known to be among the causes of CO poisoning, the key focus of the new three-year programme will be sharing information and advice about how to stay 'gas safe'. Audible CO detectors will also be distributed free of charge to 10,000 families.

Les Philpott, chairman of Gas Safe Charity, said: 'Gas Safe Charity is delighted to be working on this new carbon monoxide programme with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. Awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide has been improving in recent years, but the number of CO poisoning cases still being recorded shows there is no room for complacency.'

Errol Taylor, RoSPA's deputy chief executive, said: 'For many years, RoSPA has raised awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide, which is known as the 'silent killer' because you cannot see it, taste it or smell it. Our new partnership with Gas Safe Charity means there will be a sustained effort for a number of years to reach even more people, particularly those who are most vulnerable, with life-saving messages about the signs and symptoms of CO poisoning and the steps that can be taken to reduce the risk.'

RoSPA would like to hear from potential partner organisations interested in receiving:

· An invitation to a briefing event highlighting gas safety issues and outlining the Be Gas Safe programme
· A briefing pack containing information about how to run a local Be Gas Safe programme
· Up to 100 CO detectors for distribution to vulnerable clients
· 1,000 I'm Staying Gas Safe leaflets.

Ashley Martin, RoSPA's public health co-ordinator and Be Gas Safe programme manager, said: 'The Be Gas Safe programme offers a great opportunity for local organisations to get involved in a really practical way in saving lives and reducing injuries.'

Organisations that are interested in taking part should visit www.carbonmonoxidesafety.org.uk to download an application form. Completed forms must be submitted by January 6, 2012.

Gas Safe Charity was established in 2009 by the Health and Safety Executive and Gas Safe Register, which is the official list of engineers who are qualified to work safely and legally on gas appliances.

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9 December 2011

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