A new regulation in Scotland, which came into force at the beginning of October, has seen a change in building regulations that make it compulsory for a carbon monoxide alarm to be fitted when new or replacement boilers, fires, heaters and stoves are installed.
Planning Minister Derek Mackay said: "The Scottish Government recognises the devastating effect carbon monoxide poisoning can have on people's lives.
"Not a year goes by where there isn't an avoidable death in Scotland from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by faulty heating appliances in buildings. There are also a considerable number of incidents where people are treated in hospital for the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning."
The alarms must be fitted when boilers or other heating appliances are installed in houses, hotels, guest houses, care homes and any other buildings with bedrooms.
Louis Blake, from the Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed! campaign, said: "This change to the Scottish building regulations will see more detectors in Scottish homes, which will save lives. However, we urge people to act now to protect themselves from carbon monoxide and buy an alarm today."
Iain Johnstone, from Scots Gas Training, also welcomed the change in regulations. He believes that new appliances are intrinsically safe and that it is only poor workmanship that lets them down.
"It would be beneficial," he said, "if politicians would get together with the carbon monoxide alarm manufacturers and insurance companies to push for a retro-fit so every house in the country has an alarm.".
Many people are unaware of the devastating effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon Monoxide has no colour, smell or taste and cannot be detected by the human senses. It is extremely dangerous, binding itself to the haemoglobin in red blood cells and preventing them from transporting oxygen around the body.
According to statistics released by the Office for National Statistics, throughout England and Wales, there are an average of over 60 deaths every year due to accidental exposure to carbon monoxide - up to 45% of which occur in the home.
Figures from the Department of Health and Social Care show that there are around 4000 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning treated in A&E Departments across England each year - even mild cases can exacerbate existing conditions such as respiratory illnesses, leading to fatalities.
According to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England, around 200 per year are hospitalised in England and Wales as a result of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.
A study of more than 27,000 properties by the Liverpool John Moores University, supported by the Merseyside and West Midlands Fire Services, found that less than 10% of homes have a single carbon monoxide alarm to protect occupants from this deadly gas.
Source: Liverpool John Moores University