A campaign to change the law to make the fitting of carbon monoxide detectors compulsory whenever a carbon-burning appliance has been fitted, has been set up in memory of former Watford Observer reporter Katie Samuel.
Katie’s life was cut short in February 2010, when she was the victim of the "silent killer", carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, due to a faulty heating system. She was just 31 years old.
The CO detector that would have saved her life was in a drawer at home but hadn’t been activated.
She loved her job as a press officer at Oxford University and was blissfully happy, following her marriage to Richard Haines, and a dream honeymoon in Brazil and Argentina. She died just two months after her marriage.
Katie’s journalism career began when she was taken on as a trainee reporter at the Watford Observer and Watford Free. She quickly developed her skills and regularly freelanced for The Sunday Times and The Daily Express during evenings and weekends.
The Katie Haines Memorial Trust was founded in 2010 by Richard and the rest of her family to promote awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide and to support and promote other charities that would have been close to Katie’s heart.
Her father, Gordon, said: "Richard, my wife Avril, and our family felt compelled to do something in Katie’s memory.
"If any one of us had been the victim, she would have been passionate about raising awareness, we owe it to her to do whatever we can.
"We won’t rest until everyone in the UK understands the dangers of CO and takes steps to ensure they don’t fall victim to it.
"It’s vital people have an audible alarm, officially approved to EN50291:2001 (The European Standard for Domestic Carbon Monoxide Alarms) and have any carbon burning appliances checked regularly."
The campaign would see the law changed so an alarm would be required in England and Wales whenever a carbon-burning appliance is installed - it’s already law in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The campaign is being driven by Plumb Centre and boiler manufacturer Honeywell, two companies which are urging all installers to back it.
Around 40 people a year die from accidental CO poisoning in England and Wales - with around 4,000 admitted to hospital with symptoms that could lead to brain damage and strokes, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
CO is a silent killer. You can’t see, taste or smell it and symptoms like headaches, nausea and dizziness can be confused with the flu. The best way for people to protect themselves is to have any carbon-burning appliance regularly serviced and maintained but a professionally installed audible CO alarm, could save their life.
Gordon added: "We won’t rest until everyone in the UK understands the dangers of CO.
"It’s vital people have an audible alarm, officially approved to EN50291:2001 (The European Standard for Domestic Carbon Monoxide Alarms) and have any carbon-burning appliances checked regularly."
Plumb Center’s Gail van Dijk said: "One death from CO poisoning, is one too many. We know thousands are admitted to hospital each year but the true level of poisoning isn’t fully known.
"We’ve been overwhelmed by the support from trade bodies, boiler manufacturers, politicians and ordinary people. Now we must convert that support into names on our petition.
"We hope that as an industry we can come together, and stop these needless deaths."
To support the campaign visit www.no-to-co.co.uk and sign the e-petition. Once 100,000 people have backed the call, a debate will be triggered in the House of Commons and a change in the law will move a step nearer.
To find out more about the Katie Haines Memorial Trust go to www.katiehaines.com