We were awoken by the Carbon Monoxide (CO) detector at 2.00am. I couldn’t smell anything, so I took the alarm off the wall and put it under a pillow to stop the noise. As an afterthought I opened all the windows, including the skylight. When we woke in the morning we both felt awful.”
Carbon Monoxide is a highly poisonous gas that has no colour, taste or smell and can be produced by appliances that use gas, wood, oil or coal. Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service remind you having a working CO detector can mean the difference between life and death.
Rick continued: “I’m a commentator at events throughout Somerset and I couldn’t think straight and I was supposed to be in the commentary box. I looked at the gas fridge and the flame was white. If the CO detector had not gone off we would almost certainly have died. I would advise everyone to get a detector. We should never have stayed in the caravan we were only saved because the alarm went off and I opened the windows.”
Marc House, Community Safety Prevention Manager said: “Carbon Monoxide is potentially fatal and even low-levels of the poison can cause lasting damage to your health. It’s as vital to have a working Carbon Monoxide detector in your caravan or campervan as having a working smoke alarm. “
The early symptoms
Recognising the early symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning will save your life.
Our blood has a component called haemoglobin, which normally absorbs oxygen in our lungs and carries it to the rest of the body. But haemoglobin absorbs Carbon Monoxide 240 times more easily than it does oxygen.
So, when we inhale Carbon Monoxide from the air, it is this toxic gas, rather than oxygen that attaches itself to the haemoglobin, starving the body of oxygen. The smaller the person, the more quickly the body can be overcome by the effects of Carbon Monoxide.
The symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning are similar to the ‘flu’. They can include:
If you experience these symptoms but feel better when you are outside or away from the appliance, you could be suffering from Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
Mike Toop from Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service said: “Always have gas appliances in your caravan or motorhome serviced regularly. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off all appliances and the main cylinder value, open all doors and windows and do not smoke or turn on any electrical switches or appliances until you have been given the all clear.”
For all fire safety advice, contact the Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue helpline on: 01392 872288 or visit our page on Carbon Monoxide.
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