A Nottinghamshire couple is teaming up with Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service to warn people of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning during Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week (Monday 22 - Sunday 28 November).
David and Karen Griffin of Radcliffe-on-Trent experienced dangerous carbon monoxide poisoning during a stay in Cornwall but, fortunately, were awoken by a carbon monoxide alarm. Mr Griffin said: "Thanks to the alarm, we woke up and were able to get out of the building. Had there not been an alarm in the property, I hate to think what the outcome would have been. British Gas emergency call-out staff, on arrival, immediately condemned the boiler and use of the property. They also verified that, because the carbon monoxide alarm had gone off and, by pure chance we'd had the bedroom windows open, our lives had been saved.
"We would like to use this experience to warn other people of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and advise them to make sure they have an alarm in any room where they have a fire, boiler or similar appliance.
NFRS employee Molly Meyer also has personal experience of the risks from carbon monoxide. She said: "I know how dangerous it can be. Once, we had a carbon monoxide leak in our garage and were unaware of it. When it was checked out, they said it could have spread to the house and we could have died. We didn't have a carbon monoxide detector at the time, but we have now."
Carbon monoxide is an odourless, colourless gas produced by the incomplete burning of fossil fuels including gas, coal, wood, charcoal and petrol. Poisoning can occur due to poorly fitted or maintained appliances, blocked chimneys or vents or the use of appliances in spaces with inadequate ventilation. This could be in a boat, tent or car as well as a house or flat and could be caused by portable, as well as fixed, appliances such as butane and propane gas heaters.
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, dizziness, drowsiness and nausea. Ultimately, it can be fatal as it starves the body of oxygen, but it can also cause ongoing health problems.
If you suspect there is a build-up of carbon monoxide:
- open all doors and windows
- switch off appliances
- go outside
- call the Gas Emergency number on 0800 111 999
- seek medical help.
Carbon monoxide alarms go off when they detect surplus carbon monoxide in the air. You should fit one around three metres from the appliance, at head height, and test it regularly, perhaps every Tuesday when you test your smoke alarm.
More information about carbon monoxide is available within the home safety pages of our website.