THREE out of five households in the North-East are not protected from a deadly gas, with people from the region the least aware in the UK that carbon monoxide poses a danger to heath, research has revealed.
Figures show about 1.5 million people in the North-East do not have a carbon monoxide alarm, meaning they are at risk from the Silent Killer, which has no smell, taste or colour, and can only be detected by an alarm.
Worryingly, just one in five people in the North-East are aware that the poisonous gas is deadly.
Over the past 15 years, 38 people from the region have died from carbon monoxide poisoning, with another 300 having a lucky escape after almost sucumbing to the gas.
The figures, released by the national Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed campaign, also revealed just one in two North-Easterners would be confident in recognising the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, which can often be mistaken for flu or a hangover.
The campaign is urging people in the region to arm themselves with an alarm, and calling for a change in the law to force builders of new homes and landlords to install alarms in their properties.
Christine McGourty, from Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed, said: “We are urging people to go out and buy an alarm now,but there are also two simple steps we’d like the UK Government to take.
“Firstly, building regulations should be amended so that new homes come with alarms already installed. Secondly, providing an alarm should be part of a landlord’s annual gas safety inspection.”
The lethal gas is produced when fuels such as gas, oil, charcoal, coal and wood fail to fully burn.
Audible alarms are available from DIY stores, supermarkets, high street shops and energy suppliers for as little as £15.
A spokesman from the Royal College of General Practitioners said: “Carbon monoxide poisoning is extremely serious. It can be fatal or lead to lasting neurological damage, as well as other serious health problems, including seizures and heart attacks.
“The only way people can be sure they are protected is by getting an audible alarm. If carbon monoxide is present, the alarm will sound before someone becomes ill.”
For more information about how to stay safe, visit the website co-bealarmed.co.uk.
The Northern Echo launched its Silent Killer campaign following the death of a 19-year-old student in digs in Durham City in 1995.