Wales & West Utilities is urging young people to increase their awareness of the life-threatening dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) and the simple steps they can take to stay safe.
Lack of awareness of the risks of CO and the ways you can prevent CO harm from the poisonous gas are major contributing factors to CO-related deaths and injuries. And, with audible CO alarms, which detect and alert you to the presence of CO, being widely available at a relatively low-cost, Wales & West Utilities is calling for young people to take action and protect themselves.
The gas emergency and pipeline service for Wales and south west England has partnered with the UK’s Gas Distribution Networks (GDN’s) in the awareness campaign – ‘Game Over’.
The integrated, digitally led campaign, ‘Game Over’, builds on previous work by Wales & West Utilities and SGN amongst the key 16-24-year-old demographic. It features short films and audio ads distributed through social media, including Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat; streaming services ITVX, All 4 and Spotify; and digital radio via DAX and Octave Audio.
The campaign also includes a bespoke retro arcade game, whilst influential student ambassadors from 16 universities across the UK have been recruited to distribute campaign content and help raise awareness amongst their peers. A university roadshow is also being rolled out, which complements other on-campus work.
The campaign is being led by Wales & West Utilities and SGN, alongside Northern Gas Networks and Cadent.
Carbon monoxide is known as the ‘silent killer’: a poisonous gas that you can’t smell, can’t taste, can’t see or hear. It is produced when any fossil fuel like coal, wood, oil or natural gas doesn’t burn properly. It can pose a serious threat to human health and even result in fatality, with around 40 deaths caused by CO poisoning each year in the UK and 4,000 people treated in hospital as a result of CO poisoning.
Clive Book, Head of Operations at Wales & West Utilities, said:
“Research carried out collaboratively by all GDNs in 2020 highlighted that young people, aged 16-24, are one of the most at risk groups from CO harm as they are less aware about the dangers of CO. Raising awareness amongst this demographic is vital, so we are delighted to come together as a collective GDN group to launch this campaign – targeting those most at risk.
“It’s no shock that young people aged 16-24 are often leaving their family home for the first time and need to look after themselves in a way that they unlikely to have done before. We want to make sure that young people are equipped with the information that can, quite literally, save their lives.
“This campaign seeks to explain the risks and symptoms of CO poisoning, as well as setting out the simple steps that young people can take to stay safe.
“We urge everyone to stay safe by getting an audible carbon monoxide alarm and to ensure that all their gas appliances are serviced annually, including gas boilers, cookers and water heaters…. or it could be Game Over.”
Additional findings from the joint GDN research in 2020 found that:
- awareness of CO poisoning fatality was significantly lower amongst younger people (82% for 16–24-year-olds, compared to 92% overall)
- 16–24-year-olds are far less likely to have a working audible CO alarm (26% compared to 63% of 65 – 74-year-olds) and;
- 16–24-year-olds are also less likely to think it important to have gas appliances serviced annually (79% compared to 97% for 65-74-year-olds).
Dan Edwards, Gas Distribution Network (GDN) CO Collaboration Group Chair and SGN’s Social Impact Programme Lead, said:
“Educating young people about the dangers of CO is a high priority for us as GDNs and forms a major part of our collective strategy due to the low levels of awareness and CO alarm ownership within this higher risk group.
“This initiative - ‘Game Over’ – is aimed at 16-24-year-olds to help raise awareness of the dangers of CO and provides easy to follow advice on how to stay safe.
“Through our activity and student brand ambassadors we will engage as many young people as possible to arm them with the knowledge and tools to stay safe from CO harm and prevent it from being ‘Game Over’ for them, and others in their household.”
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, tiredness, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, shortness of breath and, in extreme cases, loss of consciousness. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be similar to those of food poisoning and the flu. However, unlike the flu, carbon monoxide poisoning does not cause a high temperature (fever).
To stay safe, people are urged to:
- Get an audible carbon monoxide alarm in every room with a gas appliance and test it regularly.
- Make sure that gas appliances are serviced annually: that includes gas boilers, gas cookers and gas water heaters.
- Know the signs of carbon monoxide: Look out for the flames on your gas appliances burning a floppy yellow or orange, not crisp and blue; pilot lights on boilers frequently blowing out; extra condensation inside your window; soot or yellow stains around appliances.
- Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: similar to the flu or food poisoning without a high temperature.
- If your alarm sounds, or you suspect carbon monoxide, take action: move outside into fresh air, leaving doors and windows open as you go. Then call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999*
To check out the Game-Over behind-the-scenes film please visit https://www.wwutilities.co.uk/services/safe-warm/carbon-monoxide/be-awareor-it-could-be-game-over/ or for more information about the campaign please visit www.UKGDNs.com.
*All calls are recorded and may be monitored.