Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms - a critical issue for landlords in light of recent legislation - are back in the news thanks to figures from London Fire Brigade.
The LFB says it’s being called to 10 per cent more carbon monoxide incidents in homes than five years ago, yet some 32 per cent of households appear not to have an alarm.
Research by comparison service Uswitch, working with LFB, shops that over 3,000 incidents related to carbon monoxide in homes were attended by firefighters in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 12 months.
Household appliances such as gas fires, boilers, central heating systems, water heaters, and cookers are possible sources of carbon monoxide, which is a tasteless, odorless and invisible gas.
London Fire Brigade - the UK’s busiest fire service - recorded the highest number of incidents of those that responded to Uswith's Freedom of Information requests.
It saw 2,019 call-outs related to carbon monoxide in 12 months, which is the equivalent of 58.9 incidents per 100,000 households.
The 27 other fire services that responded to the research attended 3,236 incidents related to carbon monoxide in homes in 2020, compared to 2,954 in 2016 - a 9.5 per cent rise.
Of those who have a carbon monoxide detector, a quarter of households say they would not know what to do if the alarm went off.
Even among the three quarters who said they would know what action to take, the majority did not mention all the recommended steps, such as turning off appliances, opening doors and windows, getting out of the property and calling a qualified technician.
One of the most common sources of carbon monoxide in homes is the boiler. Uswitch says it is recommended that boilers are serviced annually to ensure they are operating safely and at peak efficiency.
However, more than a quarter of households have not had their boiler serviced in over a year, in many cases because of the pandemic.
Overall, a fifth say they only get their boiler serviced every two years or more, and seven per cent only get a service when there is a problem.
A spokesman for London Fire Brigade, comments: “We have developed a specific response to incidents involving carbon monoxide, so we are well aware of the risks and how devastating it can be for victims and their families.
“We would encourage everyone to get a carbon monoxide alarm for their home to keep them and their family safe. Many households don’t have CO alarms, whereas around 85 per cent have a smoke alarm so there is a real need to raise awareness of the dangers and the importance of getting an alarm.
“Poisoning symptoms can easily be confused with just feeling unwell, which is why CO poisoning is so dangerous and so often missed.”