Beware danger of ‘carbon monoxide tragedy’ this summer

Local MP Mary Glindon is urging people across the region to be ‘carbon monoxide safe’ this summer, as the camping and caravanning season approaches.

Members of the public are being strongly encouraged to take appropriate steps to ensure that they are properly protected against the threat of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning while camping and caravanning during the summer months.

Tragic deaths occur every year from summertime CO poisoning, normally caused by campers bringing gas or charcoal BBQs into tents and other enclosed spaces.

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas – often dubbed the ‘Silent Killer’ – and can kill quickly if inhaled in high concentrations. The symptoms of poisoning are similar to flu or food poisoning, and include headaches, nausea and dizziness.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is often only seen as a threat in winter months when faulty household boilers or other heating appliances can emit fatal levels of the deadly gas.

However, Mary Glindon is warning people that summertime recreational equipment, such as charcoal BBQs and portable gas stoves, can also produce lethal doses of the gas, especially within confined spaces such as tents. In particular, people are warned:

* Never take a barbecue into a tent, caravan or motorhome. A warm, smouldering barbecue will give off poisonous carbon monoxide.
* Never place a lit barbecue near the sleeping area outside your tent.
* Never use a fuel-burning appliance to heat your tent or awning.
* Gas and kerosene heaters, unless they are permanently fitted in a caravan or motorhome, should only be used outside.
* Do not cook with a stove inside your tent or awning, unless there is an area specifically designed for this purpose, and you are sure there is adequate ventilation.
* Always use a portable carbon monoxide alarm.

Mary Glindon’s call is part of a new national campaign urging people across the UK to be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning this summer. The national campaign is being organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group, a group of cross-party MPs from all political parties working to prevent CO deaths in the UK, in conjunction with research body Gas Safety Trust.
Mary Glindon said:

“It’s vital that people take the necessary precautions to avoid the tragic loss of life that can occur from carbon monoxide poisoning in the summer months. Never make the mistake of thinking that CO poisoning is a winter-only issue. It isn’t.  If you’re camping or picnicking this summer, the message is simple - follow the safety measures and protect your family.”

The warning comes as a new report by the Gas Safety Trust launched this week shows that, despite a fall in the number of CO-related deaths caused by piped gas in homes last year, there remains a need to explore and publicise other causes of CO poisoning, such as BBQs and camping equipment.

The Trust has also launched an appeal for applicants to bid for its charitable grant, aimed at funding projects and new research that will help tackle CO poisoning. It is seeking UK researchers in the medical, engineering and science sectors with proposals that will lead to greater understanding of how we can prevent injury and fatality from carbon monoxide from all fuel sources in the future.

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