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The Approved Workshop Scheme (AWS) has announced that, with immediate effect, it will be annually testing Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarms in caravans and motorhomes using a calibrated a test gas system to ascertain whether the sensor is actually working. 
 
The dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning have been brought into sharp focus through recent highly publicised deaths.  CO remains the biggest natural gas killer in the UK, causing around 40 deaths a year, and hundreds to suffer from the ill effects of CO exposure.  The NCC (National Caravan Council) has required all newly-manufactured caravans and motorhomes to be fitted with a CO alarm since 2010. However, independent reports have shown significant failure rates with alarms only a few years old and well within the warranty period. 
 
Sensors may, for example, be sensitive to extremes of temperatures to which caravans and motorhomes can be vulnerable.  NCC tests have revealed alarm sensors can fail completely when exposed to low temperatures, although the test button test indicates that they are working normally.  (Pressing the test button on the CO alarm only tests the battery circuit and not the sensor itself.)
 
John Stones, Founder and Managing Director of Gas Safe Europe Ltd, which manufactures Detectagas® comments: “Detectagas® enables users to test CO alarms by generating a safe, controlled and sufficient amount of CO directly into the alarm.  It is a simple test that takes only 2-3 minutes and yet can save lives.  We are delighted that the AWS is now mandating the gas testing of CO alarms to ensure that the CO alarms in leisure vehicles are functioning properly.”
 
The NCC has advised all Approved Workshops that technicians should carry out a sensor inclusive test of CO alarms. The NCC were very early adopters of fitting CO alarms into touring caravans and motorhomes in the UK, and now we feel it is only right for us to properly test these CO alarms annually to further enhance consumer safety. We hope that other organisations follow suit."
 

AWS is a joint enterprise between the NCC (National Caravan Council), The Caravan & Motorhome Club and The Camping and Caravanning Club – seehttp://www.approvedworkshops.co.uk/

The sensor on CO alarms starts to degrade due to everyday household particles from cooking and smoking.  Unlike a fire alarm which is often tested e.g. by burning toast, there is no way to know a CO alarm would pick up CO levels unless tested with a properly calibrated gas.  

The unique, patented calibrated test gas kit Detectagas® enables users to test CO alarms by safely generating a safe, controlled and sufficient amount of CO directly into the alarm via a shroud without risk of harm to the user or equipmen

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