- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
Assembly Member Joyce Watson is backing a campaign to install carbon monoxide alarms in all new homes in Wales.
The Mid and West Wales AM attended a recent meeting organised by the Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed group at the National Assembly for Wales (3 November). The group are lobbying the Welsh government to amend building regulations so that carbon monoxide alarms are installed in all new homes.
According to the group, currently, only 38% of homes in Wales have a carbon monoxide alarm.
As well as regulations for new-builds, the campaign group wants landlords to have to supply the alarms in properties as part of annual gas safety inspections.
Campaign spokeswoman, Christine McGourty, said: “There are two simple steps we’d like the Welsh 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.”
Joyce Watson AM said she hoped the event would raise awareness and “help secure the campaign’s aims”.
“The cost of a carbon monoxide alarm has come right down in recent years – they are available for around £15 at DIY shops and some supermarkets or they can be bought directly from energy suppliers”, Mrs Watson added.
Attending the event was Adele Forbes, from Blackwood, who lost her five-year-old son McCauley and her grandparents in 2005 to carbon monoxide poisoning.
McCauley Thomas, five, had been staying with Patrick Chidgey, 71, and his wife Gloria, 68, at Pontllanfraith, near Blackwood, in October 2005.
An inquest heard carbon monoxide had built up in the house because of a blocked chimney from a coal fire.
The investigation showed the chimney had not been swept and the boiler not been serviced for “some time”.
Ms Forbes said: “We hadn’t got round to putting an alarm into our home, and I now have to live with that forever.
“Too many lives are lost or harmed each year because people don’t realise the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning.
“I want every parent in Wales to buy a carbon monoxide alarm this week.
“Believe me, spending £20 on an alarm is worth it – it can protect you and your family from permanent brain damage and it might save your lives.”
Also at the meeting were Kim an Ken Hansen from New York, who lost their only daughter Amanda to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in 2009.
The couple set up the Amanda Hansen Foundation in her memory, campaigning to raise awareness of the dangers of CO. In February 2010 they successfully lobbied New York State to establish Amanda’s Law, which requires all dwellings to have a Carbon Monoxide detectors installed.
According to the Department of Health, 50 people died from carbon monoxide poisoning in the UK last year and another 4,000 were treated in hospital. The truer number is likely to be much higher, however, campaigners say, as the early symptoms can easily be mistaken for flu or tiredness. Even if not fatal, carbon monoxide poisoning can leave lasting problems such as brain damage.
For information about the Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed! campaign contact 020 7492 0999 or email [email protected]