Eddie's proposal to change the law to save lives from the 'silent killer': carbon monoxide poisoning

Introduction

On Wednesday 13th September, I was delighted to be given permission by the House of Commons to present a Ten Minute Rule Bill to prevent death and injury from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. You can read my speech here.

Carbon monoxide is a killer and many people haven’t heard of it. In recent years, we've seen over twenty-five people killed each year in carbon monoxide related incidents. Hundreds of people are hospitalised - 264 last year. And the figures I've seen say approximately 4000 people go to A&E each year with symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Despite progress in recent years we still have a problem and it's a fatal problem. And this shouldn't be the case in the twenty first century because it's almost entirely preventable. We should make this 'silent killer' history.

I am therefore proposing a new law (a Bill) which will make some simple changes to require installation of audible carbon monoxide alarms and duties around promoting carbon monoxide safety and awareness. This isn’t a silver bullet but it will help.

Draft new law

The draft new law and consultation document can be downloaded here: Download draft law and consultation document

Consultation

Eddie's consultation has now closed. Thank you to those who submitted thoughts. We have published the responses below.

What are people saying about the proposal?

Stephanie Trotter, OBE, President & Director of CO-Gas Safety, the Carbon Monoxide and Gas Safety Society - “We welcome Eddie’s proposed new law which is the next big step to make carbon monoxide poisoning history. We suspect thousands of people are being affected by CO poisoning and remain unnoticed thinking they are just unwell. Too many people don’t even know what CO is and live with low-level poisoning without realising it. Headaches, vomiting and tiredness are just a few of the immediate symptoms, but in the long term there can be brain damage, memory loss and a change in personality. Audible carbon monoxide alarms to EN 50291 purchased from a reputable supplier can save lives and make a difference and we hope Parliament will back the law in January.”

Sue Westwood-Ruttledge, a 44-year-old mum of two from Sale, Greater Manchester, who works as a horse photographer was a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning - “I started to get lots of headaches and was generally feeling unwell. I was even diagnosed with vascular dementia, but for three years I was actually being poisoned by carbon monoxide (CO) from my boiler. It turned out the flue to the boiler wasn’t connected and that every day, toxic fumes built up, but at night, with the windows open, they escaped. My family and I had no way of knowing how close to death we were. CO kills 50 people a year in this country, but it’s still not on our radar. We were lucky, we escaped with our lives, but someone out there is breathing it in now – they’re being slowly poisoned – and the scary thing is they don’t even know it. I have since installed a CO alarm. A year later to the day that I discovered I was being poisoned by CO, the CO alarm that I had installed in my home office went off, signaling that there was a CO leak. I strongly support Eddie’s proposed law to increase the use of CO alarms because they will go a long way to help save lives and stop people suffering the way my family and I did for far too long.”

Paul Overton, Treasurer of CO-Gas Safety and stepfather to Katie Overton who died aged 11½ in 2003 of carbon monoxide poisoning in a private rented home“I urge the Government to support Eddie’s Bill to make it mandatory that all rented properties that burn any combustible fuel, have carbon monoxide alarms installed. I am pleased that Eddie has launched this consultation today on his bill and encourage industry experts to have their say. I truly believe if we had had a carbon monoxide alarm installed my Katie would still be here today.”

Gordon Samuel, Trustee of the Katie Haines Memorial Trust and the father of Katie Haines – “In Katie’s case CO proved fatal but low-level exposure of CO over a long period can also cause brain and neurological damage. Some people, particularly the elderly, are ill for months and even years without knowing why. We won't rest until everyone in the UK understands the dangers of carbon monoxide and takes steps to ensure they don't fall victim to it. It's vital that people have an audible alarm and I welcome Eddie Hughes’ efforts to make this a legal requirement by landlords."

Next steps

This revised Carbon Monoxide (Detection and Safety) Bill will be published by the House of Commons in advance of the bill’s Second Reading which is currently due to be held in the House of Commons in early 2018.

In the meantime members of the public and any interested parties are invited to complete the consultation questions to ensure the Bill is comprehensive, practical and likely to attract support from Members across the House.

Attachments

Attachment Size
Eddie Hughes MP - Silent Killer Consultation Responses 405.69 KB
Eddie Hughes MP - Silent Killer Consultation 1.38 MB