The charity Carbon Monoxide Awareness is urging holidaymakers to pack an audible carbon monoxide alarm before heading off with their children on a school holiday break. It could save their lives.
Carbon Monoxide Awareness President Lynn Griffiths said: “There have been a number of tragedies and numerous near-misses in this country and abroad in recent years. No one should take it for granted that their hotel room, holiday home, caravan, tent or boat is safe.
“Audible CO alarms don’t cost much and could be the best investment any holiday maker ever makes. They can be bought from any hardware store or supermarket and they’re small enough to fit easily into a suitcase.”
Carbon monoxide poisoning is believed to causes in the region of 50 deaths in England and Wales every year and there are numerous near misses, many of which go unreported.
“Carbon monoxide produced by faulty, poorly maintained or poorly ventilated fossil fuel appliances can quickly build up to levels that can kill in confined spaces such as hotel rooms, caravans, tents, boats and holiday homes within minutes,” Lynn Griffiths said.
“Even at lower levels, carbon monoxide causes symptoms that are similar to flu, virus, food poisoning or hangover, including headaches, tiredness, nausea and difficulty in thinking clearly.”
“Without an audible CO alarm it is unlikely that holiday-makers will even know that they are being poisoned by this deadly gas. Carbon monoxide is colourless and has no taste or smell so there are few warning signs when it’s around.”
Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced by the incomplete combustion of any hydrocarbon fuel such as Coal, Charcoal, Wood, Biomass, Oil, Petrol, Diesel, Natural Gas or Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) when burnt without enough air, usually as a result of poorly maintained or badly serviced appliances such as central heating systems, fires, cookers or heaters. It also becomes a major problem when flues or chimneys become partially or fully blocked.
Carbon monoxide also becomes a major problem when generators or barbecues are taken into enclosed/partly enclosed space because the public don’t realise that in less than just three minutes fumes can build to lethal concentrations.
Carbon monoxide poisoning reduces the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood and so starves vital organs of oxygen. The symptoms worsen as more carbon monoxide is breathed in and CO concentrations in the blood increase.
Anyone who suspects they may be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning should immediately go outside and seek medical help from a qualified healthcare professional.
Do not use heaters or cooking appliances that produce yellow instead of mostly blue flames. Malfunctioning appliances should be turned off and not used again until they have been checked and made safe by a registered engineer.