A survey of public sector housing tenants revealed that awareness levels about the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning could be improved and that more campaigns targeted at this group are required, the UK’s leading fuel safety charity, the Gas Safety Trust announced today. The pilot study, funded by the Gas Safety Trust, was carried out by the Safe and Healthy Housing Unit at Warwick University to evaluate the effectiveness of CO campaigns on public sector tenants.Alarmingly, 47% of those interviewed did not know the telephone number for the emergency services and only 1 in 10 could identify the colour of a gas flame that could cause danger.While the level of knowledge before the campaigns was found to be average,with around 70% positive responses, the research findings revealed no increase in CO awareness among public sector tenants. As the level of awareness had not reached the 80% considered high enough for sufficient public health protection, the report suggests that the campaigns were not sufficiently effective.

As a result, the survey report recommends that CO awareness campaigns are necessary and that they need to be targeted towards specific vulnerable groups, and their effectiveness should be monitored.Commenting on the findings, Gas Safety Trust Board Chair, Chris Bielby said:‘As well as targeting campaigns for specific audiences, monitoring will help ensure that the CO campaigns are informing and influencing the intended audiences’.‘There are a large number of bodies with responsibilities for, or interests in,preventing CO poisoning incidents. There is a need for co-ordination between housing associations and local authorities, Fire and Rescue Services, the Health and Safety Executive, and local health centres.‘Ideally, all public sector dwellings should be fitted with working CO detectors and residents made aware of them’.