Inventors tackle carbon monoxide after daughter poison scare

Two Bellshill based inventors are making a carbon monoxide detector after one of their daughters almost died due to poisoning from the gas.

Scott Wallace from Airdrie and Billy Mitchell from Glasgow started their company, Smart Compliance, in 2010 setting out to help prevent people from dying from CO poisoning.

Billy’s daughter Carolanne nearly died after suffering from the poisoning in her Livingston flat in 2010.

The Glasgow inventor admitted it was something which prompted him and Scott to develop the product. He said: “It was a brand new flat she had moved into and the boiler downstairs was right underneath the grill for the tumble drier, which has been fitted with the wrong plate.

“She had to be rushed to hospital and was put on oxygen for six hours.”

Billy said that it was one of the main factors in the decision to go ahead with the idea.

They designed, invented and patented a CO detector, named ‘Butterfly’, which could be ready for full production early 2013 and has now received the backing of North Lanarkshire Council.

He said: “We also spoke to North Lanarkshire Council who said they had great difficulty getting into people

houses to check boilers.

“There are around 20,000 homes at risk of not having their boilers checked.”

Following the death of two 18-year-old boys due to poisoning in Northern Ireland in 2011, the rest of the UK is now contemplating following the example set and making carbon monoxide detectors compulsory in homes.

Des Murray, property service manager with North Lanarkshire Council, said: “All our properties are fitted with carbon monoxide detectors. In addition, all our properties undergo a gas safety check every year without exception and we provide a range of guidance information for our tenants. The council are also full members of the national gas safe register which replaced the CORGI registration.

“We welcome any measures which help tackle the dangers posed by carbon monoxide and we have assisted Smart Compliance Ltd with advice on the development of their product.”

The ‘Butterfly’ name derived from a competition across North Lanarkshire primary schools where pupils were invited to give name suggestions.

Ellie Byrnes, an eight year old from Holy Family Primary School in Bellshill, won the competition naming the product ‘Butterfly’ because fly silently like CO.

The six main symptoms of CO poisoning are headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapse and loss of consciousness. These mainly go unnoticed and are often flu-like.

What makes the ‘Butterfly’ product unique is its link with mobile phones to alert you if there is a dangerous level of CO in a home.

Billy said: “It sends texts to mobile phones when CO is detected. Multiple mobile phones can be alerted, so this means that families and friends, even if they live far apart, can keep each other safe.

“You could put a detector in your elderly parents’ house, in your teenager’s student accommodation, or in your office for example, and can set it up to alert multiple phones anywhere.

“We’ve got several in central Scotland just now and even one in Portugal and we’ve had no issues so far.

The detector also tests itself once a week and sends users a text to let them know that their detector is working. If the battery needs replaced, the user will also be alerted but Billy says that the battery life of the detector would be around ‘five years’.

It could cost around £60 at your average retailer, but Billy said: “Over the five years I’d say it’s value for money because it takes away the fear. What kind of value can you put on safety?”