ONE of Hampshire's top politicians is urging families to stay safe this winter and avoid falling victim to deadly carbon monoxide fumes.

Julian Lewis, Tory MP for New Forest East, is calling on householders to have their boiler serviced by a qualified technician every 12 months and install an audible carbon monoxide alarm in their homes.

Every year about two dozen people die from carbon monoxide poisoning in the UK and hundreds more are admitted to hospital.

Hampshire victims include three campers killed by fumes from disposable barbecues. Isabelle Harris, six, of Gosport, Nicholas Holmes, 22, of Waterlooville and Vincent Clare, 50, of Milton Keynes, have all died at New Forest campsites in the past 18 months Now Dr Lewis is backing a national campaign that aims the highlight the risks.

He said: “It's absolutely vital that people understand the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and, most importantly, how we can all protect our homes and families from the threat.

“Far too many people die in the UK each year from carbon monoxide poisoning. We must do all we can to stop these heartbreaking and unnecessary deaths.

“I cannot urge people enough - get a carbon monoxide alarm and get your boiler checked.”

Families are also being urged to look out for any indications that fumes leaking from faulty appliances.

Warning signs include lazy yellow or orange flames on appliances such as boilers and gas stoves instead of crisp blue flames, black marks on or around the appliance and too much condensation in the room.

Dr Lewis said residents should also make sure only a 'Gas Safe registered' engineer works on their appliances.

The campaign is being staged by the All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group, an all-party group of MPs determined to prevent CO deaths in the UK.