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Coroner urges rethink on boiler safety categories

A coroner has called for the system of classifying boilers to be changed after a woman drowned in a bath having breathed in carbon monoxide from a leaking boiler.

Katie Haines, 31, was found by her husband Richard at their home in Wokingham, Berkshire, in February 2010.

The BBC reported that at the inquest in Reading on Tuesday, the court heard how a British Gas engineer had certified the couple’s boiler as “at risk” three months earlier, after carrying out an inspection and expressing concerns over ventilation.

In his evidence, Mr Haines said the idea it could be dangerous was not impressed upon him.

Berkshire coroner Peter Bedford recorded a narrative verdict calling for the system of categorising boilers to be changed.

He said the potential danger was with the “at risk” category. He added that he planned to recommend that if there was any problem with any gas appliance, it should be condemned outright.

After the hearing, Mrs Haines’ father, Gordon Samuels, urged people to use carbon monoxide detectors.

Mr Samuels urged people to be more aware of the dangers, saying carbon monoxide alarms should be as common as smoke alarms.

He said: “This could have been prevented if alarms were as ubiquitous as fire alarms are in your own homes.

“You cannot smell it, you cannot taste it, you can’t see it, it is lighter then air, it’s lethal - and it can kill you in two minutes.”

Mrs Haines, a former journalist who worked as a press officer at Oxford University, had been married for two months when she died.