About 1.1m adults are at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, with more than 400,000 people unknowingly vulnerable to the silent killer.
An awareness week, running until Saturday, is warning consumers about the risks of the potentially deadly substance.
Six people die every year as a result of the colourless, odourless, and tasteless gas which can kill in as little as three minutes.
At the campaign launch yesterday, Minister for Communications, Climate Action, and Environment Denis Naughten said: “Carbon monoxide has caused tragedy in many people’s lives and I would encourage everyone to take the necessary precautions and simple preventative measures to protect against the silent killer, especially coming into the winter when the use of heating appliances increases.”
Star of Mrs Brown’s Boys and ambassador for the campaign, Rory Cowan, spoke about his experience of being poisoned by the gas. After he suffered from tiredness and headaches, a friend insisted he call the gas company. He was shocked to be told there was a toxic dose of carbon monoxide in his home as his boiler was less than a year old.
“It was the last thing that would have crossed my mind but there was double the lethal dose in my house. I would appeal to everybody, get an alarm,” he said. “It’s the only thing that’s going to save your life. You will not see or smell anything with carbon monoxide.”
Oil Firing Technical Association (Oftec) manager David Blevings said there was a common misconception among homeowners that carbon monoxide was only omitted through natural gas.
However, he said carbon monoxide can be produced when any fossil fuel is burned including gas, oil, peat, turf, wood, wood pellets, petrol, diesel, and coal.
The Commission for Energy Regulation working group, which is running Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week, is urging homeowners to install audible carbon monoxide alarms that meet EU standards and carry a CE mark.
The alarms should also have an an independent certification such as Kitemark and be installed with an end of life indicator, says the group.
And as well as installing an alarm, Oftex say fossil-fuelled appliances such as boilers should be serviced annually by a qualified technician. Some 50,000 solid fuel stoves and oil burners are installed each year in Ireland and OFTEC warn of the potential dangers associated with the recent growth in stoves across the country.
Mr Cowan is also asking people to get their boilers checked. “It’s only €90 but it could save your life,” he added.
CO causes illness in lower doses with symptoms including headaches, chest pains, sickness, diarrhoea, dizziness, or general lethargy.
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