With the holiday season approaching, the charity Carbon Monoxide Awareness is alerting holidaymakers to the risk of taking lit barbecues into enclosed spaces such as tents, caravans and holiday chalets.
The warning follows several recent tragedies in which campers lost their lives after taking lit barbecues into tents or, in one case, a caravan for warmth. Carbon monoxide (CO) is difficult to detect because it is colourless and has no taste or smell. People often don’t realise that they are being overcome by fumes until it is too late.
Paul Griffiths, a popular businessman and father of three, died from carbon monoxide poisoning due to the incorrect assembly of a gas camping lamp while on a family camping holiday in Derbyshire in July 2007.
Paul aged 43, lit the gas lamp before retreating to his tent for the night. The following morning, he was found dead. The inquest held at Chesterfield Magistrates Court in December 2009, found that Paul died from carbon monoxide toxicity partly due to a lamp that was capable of being misassembled, a further contributing factor was insufficient ventilation in the tent.
Paul left a wife Louise, daughters Rachel and Isabel, and a son Michael.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is responsible for approximately 50 deaths in the UK every year. The charity however believes this figure is much higher.
Carbon monoxide Awareness President Lynn Griffiths said: “No one should ever take a barbecue indoors. To do so is courting disaster and sadly there have been a number of tragedies and several near misses in recent years.”
Exposure to the gas reduces the blood’s capacity to carry oxygen, thereby causing the vital organs to fail. Early symptoms are similar to flu, but these worsen as more of the gas is breathed in and Carbon monoxide concentrations in the blood increase.
Anyone who suspects that they may be suffering from Carbon monoxide poisoning should turn off all appliances, go outside and seek help from a qualified healthcare professional.
- Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) powered appliances should be serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer who is qualified to work with LPG.
- Solid fuel appliances should be serviced by a solid fuel HETAS registered engineer.
- Oil fuelled appliances should be serviced by an OFTEC registered engineer.
- For their personal safety, holiday-makers should buy an audible carbon monoxide alarm that meets British or European Standards (EN 50291).
- A lit barbecue should never be taken into a tent, caravan or campervan.