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The north of England’s gas distributor, Northern Gas Networks (NGN) is raising awareness of the dangers of Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning through a new trial scheme in Kirklees, West Yorkshire.

Working alongside Local Authorities in the area, NGN is funding the installation of 150 innovative carbon monoxide detectors in social housing as part of the trial. So far 80 devices have been installed in the Kirklees area.

Carbon monoxide is often referred to as the ‘silent killer’ as it has no smell, colour or taste making it difficult to detect. Inhaling CO prevents oxygen from being carried around the body. This can be fatal and results in 50 deaths in the UK each year as well as approximately 4,000 people needing medical treatment.

Scottish company, Smart Compliance Ltd developed the new CO detectors used in the trial scheme. When carbon monoxide is detected, the device issues SMS notifications to a nominated mobile phone, whether that be to the home owner, a close friend or family member. This ensures vulnerable people in particular can be kept safer at home.

Weekly reports are also issued by the detectors to confirm that they are fully functional and to alert owners when the batteries need replacing. During the trial period, the local councils involved in the scheme will receive all notifications from devices.

Tom Bell, Head of Social Strategy at NGN, said of the trial scheme: “Raising awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning is an issue we take extremely seriously, as is the health and safety of all our customers.

“Other gas distribution networks across the country are also taking part in the scheme and we hope that together we will be able to make significant progress in informing people of the risks associated with exposure to CO”.

Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing is one of the organisations taking part in the pilot. The company, which manages 23,000 homes on behalf of Kirklees Council, works with NGN and gas safety campaigner Stacey Rodgers, as part of the Kirklees Carbon Monoxide Awareness Group, and so was keen to take part in the pilot.

Paul Goodwin, who manages KNH’s Gas & Electric Team, said, “Keeping our tenants safe is a fundamental part of our role as a social landlord, so we carry out annual gas servicing and safety checks on all the properties we manage. As an additional precaution, we also fit carbon monoxide detectors in the homes of our more vulnerable tenants, so we’re looking forward to seeing how the new smart detectors can help us keep those tenants even safer.”

Smart Compliance Director Scott Wallace said, “We’re delighted to be involved in this pilot project and to see large utility companies such as Northern Gas, embracing innovative technology which is changing the way we detect and protect against deadly carbon monoxide. We are committed to raising awareness, saving lives and promoting people’s health.”

National Grid and Wales & West Utilities are also involved in the initiative which is supported by the Energy Innovation Centre which will see 600 of the new smart detectors fitted in homes around the UK.

NGN delivers gas to 2.7 million homes and businesses across the North of England and provides the region’s rapid response service for customers who smell gas at home or work.

For more information go to www.northerngasnetworks.co.uk