Coroner calls for all rented homes to have carbon monoxide alarms after death of Cleethorpes woman
A CORONER has urged that all rented properties are fitted with carbon monoxide alarms after a Cleethorpes woman was killed by a leak of the deadly gas.
Elaine Coley died from inhaling exceptionally high levels of gas leaked from a portable heater she had purchased for her flat in Barcroft Street.
The 52-year-old was described by her family as a sociable pet lover "who always put others first", and they have backed the Deputy Assistant Coroner Jane Eatock's call for more to be done.
An inquest, held at Cleethorpes Town Hall, heard that had it not been for a neighbour having an alarm fitted in her own property, the death toll could have been higher.
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Mrs Coley was found dead on February 1, after Rachel Butters called the emergency services when she returned home from work to find her alarm going off, as reported.
As a result, she and her partner, who live in the neighbouring terraced property, and a neighbour who lived in the flat above Mrs Coley, were evacuated. They did not suffer any adverse effects.
The inquest heard how a sweep of the gas escaping from the heater, carried out by British Gas investigator Damion Towers following the incident, revealed that carbon monoxide formed 120 parts per million. He told the court a level of just 10 parts carbon monoxide per million would usually be "a cause for concern".
Mr Towers added that due to faults with the heater, he was unable to safely connect a gas bottle "in the way the manufacturer intended" to test it. As a result, he believed the levels of carbon monoxide escaping when Mrs Coley used the appliance could have been higher.
The inquest heard she had opted not to use the wall heaters fitted in the property by her landlord, John Crampton Properties Ltd, and instead relied on her own portable heater for warmth.
Under current legislation, only appliances supplied by landlords must undergo annual safety checks and landlords are not legally obliged to install carbon monoxide alarms.
Safety checks were up to date on all the gas appliances supplied by the firm, and there was no suggestion that any of these appliances had contributed to the leak.
In a letter read in evidence at the hearing, Mr Crampton said he had not been aware that she had the heater and that its use had been in breach of her tenancy.
Mr Crampton also called for "better public awareness" of the dangers of using such appliances in enclosed and poorly ventilated areas.
After a jury recorded a verdict of accidental death, Miss Eatock said: "I am making a recommendation that all rented properties do have carbon monoxide alarms fitted.
"That's the simplest and most effective way of preventing future fatalities. If her neighbour had not had one, this could have been even worse than it is."
She said that while the home was privately rented, she will be writing to the Landlord's Association and social housing providers in the area.
"If something can come from this, it is one step forward," she added.
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