London Heating Services

Women survive carbon monoxide gassing

TWO women have been told it was a "miracle"they survived after they spent months breathing in carbon monoxide from faulty gas heaters.

Gas engineers told Vanessa Kirby and Sharon Lees they were lucky to be alive after they discovered the gas had been leaking into their homes for as long as three months.

And now the women, both from Punnetts Court, Bewbush, have sent a warning to others who have the same 30-year-old warm air heating systems.

Miss Kirby, 58, said: "I had been feeling sleepy and tired for two or three months but I just didn't put it down to the gas heater. It was still working fine and there was no smell of gas.

"I was feeling unwell so I spent a week at home - I didn't realise at the time just how much I was sleeping. One day I fell asleep at home and woke up gasping for air.

"The only signs of carbon monoxide were slight soot marks next to the vents.

"If it had happened in the winter when I had the windows closed I don't think I would be here now."

It wasn't until her neighbour Mrs Lees had a visit from a gas engineer that either of them noticed the problem.

Mrs Lees,54, said: "A man from British Gas came round and said he was surprised there hadn't been a fatality. He immediately cut off my gas supply.

"I recognised the same signs in Miss Kirby's house.We have both had our systems replaced with new heaters similar to the old ones".

The women stress that warm air gas heaters are safe and cheap to run - they say it is the old systems which haven't been serviced for some years which are potential killers.

Crawley Council says most of the systems still in use are in former council homes where maintenance is up to the owners.

A council spokesman said: "We still have 170 of these systems in council properties but they are checked annually and are therefore perfectly safe.

"However, if anyone with a warm air heating system wants to have it replaced, the council will be happy to oblige."

Anyone who suspects they have a faulty gas system should contact a CORGI-registered engineer immediately.

Crawley Older Persons Forum can also provide more information about warm air heating systems.

Sent: 17/09/2007

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