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Carbon monoxide poisoning often diagnosed as flu, research reveals after Manchester university graduate dies

By Dean Wilkins

The family of a newlywed wife who was killed by carbon monoxide inhalation are urging homeowners to install safety precautions after the Manchester university graduate’s death.

Katie Haines and her husband Richard enjoyed their honeymoon in South America in 2010 and were settling into married life when a faulty boiler released a fatal amount of carbon monoxide.

Mrs Haines lost consciousness and banged her head causing her to fall in the bath and drown – her family are now pleading for gas alarms to become compulsory in homes.

Gordon Samuel, Mrs Haines’ father said: “I can’t even articulate what it was like for us to lose our daughter in this way. It is totally unnatural for a child to go before their parents.

“That is why we are encouraging people to save their own lives and would like to see carbon monoxide alarms become as common in every home as smoke alarms.

“Smoke alarms are not compulsory but you would be foolish not to have one. The same should be said about carbon monoxide alarms.”

The ‘silent killer’ took the lives of Northern Irish teenagers Neil McFerran and Aaron Davidson in the same year as Mrs Haines and building regulations have now been changed across the province.

Mrs Haines, an aspiring journalist, graduated from the University of Manchester and later became a press officer for the University of Oxford – she was found dead at her home in Berkshire just weeks after returning from her honeymoon.

Trade association Energy UK found that a huge number of people mistakenly believe their smoke alarm will detect carbon monoxide – up to 35million people are at risk from poisoning.

Campaigners from The Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed found that 42% of people who do not have a carbon monoxide alarm think that their smoke alarm detects the gas.

More than 50 people are fatally poisoned each year by the gas and 4,000 are hospitalised across the UK.

But carbon monoxide poisoning is extremely difficult to diagnose and can often be mistaken for food poisoning or flu – the Department of Health believe that the actual number of cases is much higher than recorded.

Picture courtesy of katiehaines.com

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