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NOW CLOSED How much do you know about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning? Talk to Sprue Safety Products - you could win a £150 voucher

(153 Posts)
KatieBMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 28-May-12 11:14:01

The makers of FireAngel carbon monoxide alarms, (Sprue Safety Products), would like to find out how aware Mumsnetters are of the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. It's a topic you may know a lot or a little about.

They say "With the Jubilee celebrations and half term break coming up, we expect that many families will be heading off to enjoy an extended bank holiday - either under canvas, in a caravan or in other self catering accommodation. The recent tragic death of a teenage girl on a campsite in Shropshire has raised the profile of carbon monoxide poisoning - but we are interested to know whether parents understand the potentially fatal dangers of bringing a barbecue inside a tent or the risks that a faulty boiler poses?"

Sprue Safety Products is hoping to raise awareness of this issue with this thread and to generate discussion about how parents treat holiday accommodation (and how aware you are of CO safety in your own home). So please have a read of the questions below and a think about this topic and share your thoughts, stories and experiences.


How aware are you of the dangers of CO poisoning?
Do you take any precautions to prevent CO poisoning in your own home?
How about on holiday, do you take the same level of care in tents/caravans/self catering accommodation as you do in your own home? Do you have some kind of safety checklist?
If so, what steps do you take towards protecting you and your family from CO poisoning?

They would also like to find out your level of knowledge about the effects of CO poisoning:

What do you think the signs of CO poisoning are?
Would you be able to recognise these signs?
Would you/do you take a CO alarm on holiday with you?

And also about education for families of this topic:
Would you like more information on how to prevent CO poisoning in your own home or when on holiday?
What information would you like and how would you like this information to be available?


Everyone who adds their comments to this thread will be entered into a prize draw where one winner will receive a £150 Amazon voucher, and 5 runners up will receive a portable, 7 year life FireAngel CO-9X carbon monoxide alarm.

More information on the dangers of CO poisoning and how to prevent it can be found here.

Thanks and good luck with the prize draw.

MNHQ

+++++++

(A message from Sprue Safety Products, added later in the thread and reposted here for clarity)

"Thank you all for taking part in this discussion and sharing your knowledge of carbon monoxide - and the alarming experiences some of you have had.

We would like to make it absolutely clear that in no way are we saying it is safe to burn anything inside a tent, as long as you have a carbon monoxide alarm. It is not. This discussion is designed to find out how aware mumsnetters are of the potentially fatal dangers of CO in any accommodation.

A barbecue should NEVER be taken inside a tent, awning, caravan or motorhome. A warm, smouldering barbecue will give off poisonous CO, which can kill quickly and without warning, as it has no smell or taste. And NEVER place a lit barbecue near the sleeping area outside your tent/awning."

Olympia2012 Mon 28-May-12 11:21:19

The threat of Carbon Monoxide poisoning is how I got to be living here in my brand new home. Due to overcrowding I was sleeping in the lounge of my former home, which had a gas fire in it. I mentioned it to the housing association I rented from and they told me it is dangerous. It was mentioned that sleeping in any room leading on from a room with a gas appliance is dangerous

I hadn't realised. And who knew it isn't mandatory for HA houses ( not sure about other rented properties) to fit a simple carbon monoxide alarm!? Apparently, a yearly service is all that's required!

Anyway, I went out and bought my own immediately. I was quite horrified imagining my children coming downstairs to find me ill or worse, dead.

I got moved here fairly quickly. And there is a carbon monoxide alarm fitted, thankfully. Feel safe now.

ShatnersBassoon Mon 28-May-12 11:34:28

We have two carbon monoxide alarms in our house, one upstairs and one downstairs. We have a gas boiler and a solid fuel stove, and we know that there is a risk of leaking carbon monoxide from both of these.

I must admit that I am less careful on holiday, and wouldn't think to check that there was a carbon monoxide detector in the accommodation. I would still be cautious of gas appliances though, and wouldn't let anyone sleep in the same room as one. I think I might take one of our alarms with us when we go away this summer though, now I have been forced to consider it! So thank you for that smile

I believe the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be headaches, feeling confused/sleepy and feeling nauseous.

TheRhubarb Mon 28-May-12 11:36:01

I'd like to think that I'm fairly aware of the dangers of CO poisoning. We have an open fire in the living room that burns wood and coal. We ensure the chimney is swept every year and we have a CO detector in this room too.

When on holiday in a tent or caravan we always place the BBQ away from our accommodation. In fact more often than not the sites usually provide a communal BBQ which we use but if doing our own then we make sure it's away from where we are sleeping as I'm also paranoid about fires too. I never considered getting CO from a BBQ. I'd never allow one into the tent or caravan because of my fear of fire but until the recent news cases of people being poisoned in this way, I was pretty ignorant about it.

As far as I am aware, the signs of CO poisoning are flu-like symptoms. Sickness, grogginess, headaches and a general feeling of being unwell which clears up once you are out of the room. More severe symptoms can be a sense of disorientation and confusion. Hopefully I would recognise these signs but my first thoughts would probably be food poisoning rather than CO poisoning.

No we don't take a CO alarm on holiday but if we were going somewhere with an open fire then I might consider this.

Yes there should be more information about this. You often let your guard down whilst on holiday and tbh whilst we might make sure that our open fire is safe at home, if we stayed in a holiday cottage or gite, we don't normally ask when they last had their chimney swept or gas fires maintained. So I do think that more could be done to educate people as to the dangers. This could be on TV and in newspapers, like the campaign around smoke alarms.

My brother is a plumber and he fits a co alarm with every gas appliance he fits because he is only too aware of the dangers. He also tries to make sure all his friends and family have monitors too. When we moved our housewarming gift was an alarm.

If I'm honest I had never thought about checking the cottages where we have stayed before. But now I am aware of it I will be looking into whether a portable alarm is available for us to buy.

From my first aid training I believe the signs of co poisoning are things like a headache, fluey symptoms, tiredness which could be mistaken for many different things. This is why I think it is so dangerous.

CMOTDibbler Mon 28-May-12 11:47:07

I'm very aware of CO poisoning - a friend nearly died and has had severe long term issues following CO poisoning.
We have two CO monitors at home, and take one away with us. When camping, we only cook outside the tent and would never bring anything inside.

We bought a CO alarm when we had a coal effect gas fire installed about 10 years ago. We have also got a woodburner and a gas boiler, the CO alarm is at the bottom of the stairs fairly close to the latter two items (we virtually never use the gas fire now) and we check it every month along with the smoke alarms. We get the boiler serviced every year and keep the chimney swept. One of my earliest recollections of knowing about it when was when Coronation Street ran a storyline about it many years ago.

I have read of several cases of disposable BBQs causing CO poisoning in tents. We have never taken one inside our tent and we don't use the gas stove in there either. I have never taken a CO monitor to a holiday cottage/caravan, but it has been at the back of my mind to get one and put it on our holiday packing list.

I think the symptoms are nausea, tiredness, unconsciousness.

I do think there should be greater awareness, in the same way as we are reminded constantly about smoke alarms by adverts, mentions of it on the news whenever there is an incident, maybe gas companies could give them out to people on low incomes in the same way as the fire service provide smoke alarms. They should be compulsory in all rental properties.

I am aware of Carbon Monoxide poisoning, and know that it is odourless and colourless. Symptoms of headache, confusion, tiredness and generally feeling yuk can indicate CO posoining, but it is tricky as those symptoms could be for many other illness.

We have our boiler serviced annually along with our gas fire and have just recently got a CO alarm.

To be honest I have never really thought about it when on holiday, in a tent or cottage and I suppose you just assume that those places are safe. blush

More needs to be done to educate people, especially since the tragedy of the camping family.

Blu Mon 28-May-12 12:07:10

I am becoming more aware, generally after hearing about tragedies sad

I am not really sure what forms of burning can generate CO and which can't, but I would never have a BBQ or lit gas appliance in our tent anyway, due to fire risk. We recently stayed on a friend's boat and they had a wood burning stove oin the cabin - I went round and opened every ventilation hatch befpre we went to bed even though it was freezing.

I don't really know what signs of CO poisoning are - red cheeks and lips? My instinct would be to get to fresh air with any unelplianed headache or wooziness anyway.

We haven't got CO detectors at home - we have 2 old gas boilers, one for water, pne for heating, and we have them serviced every year, but CO detectors will be my next purchase, I think. But I am very ignorant. I wouldn't know how best to install them - and doesn't CO sink to the ground? Do they need installing at ground level? confused

I would take CO detector on holiday
I would like one for camping
Yes, I would like onfo to be available - I think holiday companies should give the info and explain the devices they provide in accommodation, I would like house purchases to include a survey of CO risk, and good clear TV oublic info ads are quite effective, too. People just don't know about CO dangers, but we all have SO much info to take in. Leaflets get lost.

Ineedadollar Mon 28-May-12 12:09:58

I'm aware of the dangers and the symptoms of poisoning. I have a portable monitor in my home and take it on holiday with us. I am the only person I know who does this.

fallingandlaughing Mon 28-May-12 12:19:00

How aware are you of the dangers of CO poisoning?

I would say very aware. I have worked with people with severe brain damage due to Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. it is devastating.

Do you take any precautions to prevent CO poisoning in your own home?

We have an alarm near the gas boiler. I think when DD moves into her own room I'll get an alarm for there too. Maybe not necessary but can't do any harm to be well covered.

*How about on holiday, do you take the same level of care in tents/caravans/self catering accommodation as you do in your own home? Do you have some kind of safety checklist?
If so, what steps do you take towards protecting you and your family from CO poisoning?*

Wouldn't use a potentially CO emitting device in a tent. Haven't stayed in a caravan as an adult. Haven't stayed in self-catering which has gas appliances, but am now thinking we should get a portable alarm just in case we go an stay somewhere that there is a risk.

*What do you think the signs of CO poisoning are?
Would you be able to recognise these signs?
Would you/do you take a CO alarm on holiday with you?*

I think the main signs are headache, drowsiness and flushed cheeks, there may be more. I think/hope I would recognise these. I'd rather rely on an alarm though!

Haven't taken an alarm on holiday but now thinking it would be a good idea.

*And also about education for families of this topic:
Would you like more information on how to prevent CO poisoning in your own home or when on holiday?
What information would you like and how would you like this information to be available?*

Further education on this could never be a bad thing. Would be good to have it online eg holiday review sites and in with purchases like tents or camping stoves.

TheRhubarb Mon 28-May-12 12:37:50

Blu, yes CO sinks to the ground. You can buy CO detectors from B&Q or any other DIY store more or less. It needs to be some distance away from a gas appliance, so the other side of the room would do and it needs to be fixed quite low down. We have ours on our bottom bookshelf but you can fix it to the wall. It looks just like a smoke detector and works in the same way. Installing one is just as easy.

sis Mon 28-May-12 12:42:13

How aware are you of the dangers of CO poisoning? reasonably aware
Do you take any precautions to prevent CO poisoning in your own home? we have alarms
How about on holiday, do you take the same level of care in tents/caravans/self catering accommodation as you do in your own home? Do you have some kind of safety checklist? no
If so, what steps do you take towards protecting you and your family from CO poisoning?

What do you think the signs of CO poisoning are? people look healthy and slightly flushed
Would you be able to recognise these signs? probably not
Would you/do you take a CO alarm on holiday with you? yes, if it was small and light

And also about education for families of this topic:
Would you like more information on how to prevent CO poisoning in your own home or when on holiday? yes
What information would you like and how would you like this information to be available? leaflet with checklist

I am aware of the existence of CO poisoning, but it is rarely mentioned in the media where I live. Getting an alarm for my home has been on my to do list for ages. Reading the other answers above makes me pretty ashamed i didn't alreDy do something about it.

Only too aware now - a guy on our Uni course died through a faulty gas lamp when camping - his daughter found him dead in morning. A few couple of years ago now but still shocking when someone your own age dies in such a tragic but avoidable way.

How aware are you of the dangers of CO poisoning? VERY
Do you take any precautions to prevent CO poisoning in your own home? Have an alarm by boiler but not by woodburner - know they need lots of flow, which it has but the alarms are very bulky and not neat / easy to install where they should...
How about on holiday, do you take the same level of care in tents/caravans/self catering accommodation as you do in your own home? Do you have some kind of safety checklist? no
If so, what steps do you take towards protecting you and your family from CO poisoning?

What do you think the signs of CO poisoning are? people look healthy and slightly flushed
Would you be able to recognise these signs? probably not
Would you/do you take a CO alarm on holiday with you? yes, if it was small and light

And also about education for families of this topic:
Would you like more information on how to prevent CO poisoning in your own home or when on holiday? yes
What information would you like and how would you like this information to be available? leaflet with checklist

heliumballoon Mon 28-May-12 12:49:40

How aware are you of the dangers of CO poisoning?
Very aware. It is something which has bothered me since I read about it on MN actually. I remember one particular MNetter on Chat urging others to buy an alarm after a near miss in her home.

Do you take any precautions to prevent CO poisoning in your own home?
This is where it comes across that I am a total idiot. We had an alarm and it was one of those spot ones and then it ran out and we never bought another. I asked DH to buy one last time he went to Homebase actually as we have a new baby but he forgot. For some reason CO alarms aren't in the public consciousness like fire alarms.

I do get the boiler serviced though. The company writes and reminds us annually.

<And we're idiots about fire alarms- ours currently has the battery out as it kept going off whenever I cooked. Must go and put it back in actually>

How about on holiday, do you take the same level of care in tents/caravans/self catering accommodation as you do in your own home? Do you have some kind of safety checklist?
Nope. Assumed legislation would take care of this.

What do you think the signs of CO poisoning are?
Headache is the biggest one. You hear of people feeling crap for weeks and then it is put down to their boiler. Then, if it's severe, you lose consciousness. That's why it's so dangerous as you can just go to sleep and not wake up.

Would you be able to recognise these signs?
Maybe. If the whole family had them I might think something was up.

Would you/do you take a CO alarm on holiday with you?
Nope. We travel by train- enough already!

And also about education for families of this topic:

Would you like more information on how to prevent CO poisoning in your own home or when on holiday?
I think I know what the problem is. It's about being prodded into doing something about it. And the alarms with batteries in seem quite expensive. And ugly. We live in a small flat with low ceilings and the combination of the two alarms looks ugly. Could I put it right by the boiler though in the cupboard? Or would it need to cover a leak from the gas cooker too? <thinks>

OhDoAdmitMrsDeVere Mon 28-May-12 12:53:03

I am very aware but I knew NOTHING about the dangers of co poisoning from neighbouring properties.
I heard a mother tell how she found her son dead after the next door's boiler leaked through the brickwork.
So no matter how well your own appliances are maintained you must always have an alarm

OhDoAdmitMrsDeVere Mon 28-May-12 12:56:48

Sleepiness, headaches, flu symptoms
I would be aware of them but it is not easy to tell the difference between them and a virus.
Always take an alarm with me.
We need more info. It needs to me at saturation level the way road safety was in the 70 s

TheMightyMojoceratops Mon 28-May-12 13:05:15

How aware are you of the dangers of CO poisoning?
I am pretty aware after hearing stories of near-misses in badly maintained student accomodation whilst at university.

Do you take any precautions to prevent CO poisoning in your own home?
Yes, we have a carbon monoxide alarm near our fire/boiler.

How about on holiday, do you take the same level of care in tents/caravans/self catering accommodation as you do in your own home? Do you have some kind of safety checklist?
No, it wouldn't cross my mind to be honest, though I realise (now) it should do.

If so, what steps do you take towards protecting you and your family from CO poisoning?
We've got a FireAngel CO90 so I should take that with us really.

They would also like to find out your level of knowledge about the effects of CO poisoning:

What do you think the signs of CO poisoning are?
Tiredness, nausea, headaches, lethargy.
Would you be able to recognise these signs?
I think so...
Would you/do you take a CO alarm on holiday with you?
No, but I will do in future!

And also about education for families of this topic:
Would you like more information on how to prevent CO poisoning in your own home or when on holiday?
The holiday info would be useful.
What information would you like and how would you like this information to be available?
We usually do self-catered and in kitchens they always have fire extinguishers and the fire regs on display, something similar for carbon monoxide would be useful, or something very visible saying how recently equipment was checked and how old the alarm is if they have one.

deepfriedcupcake Mon 28-May-12 13:07:08

I'm aware of CO, how it's colourless, odourless and poisonous but wasn't aware / didn't quite remember that it sinks until coverage of the recent tragic camping trip.

We don't have any monitors in our current (owned) home but have the boiler and gas fire serviced reasonably regularly. I think remember there being something about the colour of the flame if the boiler's not burning right. I know some of the symptoms, mainly headaches, though would probably assume these were down to a cold or something rather than CO poisoning.

We have always made sure the boiler is serviced annually in rented houses and have requested to see the certificate. It would be good if a CO monitor in rented homes was common / good practice.

We camp regularly but always keep the bbq (if we use one) downwind, away from the tent, though that's more because my brother managed to burn a tent once (with no one in it thankfully). A leaflet or reminder on checking into campsites would be useful. A little monitor to keep in the tent could be good too, I should think most outdoor shops would be happy to stock something like that.

We don't check that the gas in cottages / hotels has been checked - mainly just assumme it's okay. I'd be uneasy about a boiler or gas fire being located in a bedroom and might then ask for confirmation that it's been serviced.

Kenmum Mon 28-May-12 13:09:24

The recent CO incidents in tents have been terrible, but I'd be wary of taking a CO monitor into a tent as the ones I've seen are only rated up to 90% humidity. Add a bit of rain and people sleeping inside and you'll easily get above this!

The key is to keep any fuel-burning kit out of a tent.

The Camping and Caravanning Club has some useful advice online at www.campingandcaravannninclub.co.uk/COleaflet

Ingles2 Mon 28-May-12 13:19:10

How aware are you of the dangers of CO poisoning?
Very aware,.. I have a fire angel alarm in my home.
Do you take any precautions to prevent CO poisoning in your own home?
Yep.. we have an oil fired boiler, 2 wood burning stoves and an open fire, so am aware they are plenty of risks. We have had our alarm go off before when we had smoke seeping back in to the room because the chimney cowl was blocked with leaves.
How about on holiday, do you take the same level of care in tents/caravans/self catering accommodation as you do in your own home? Do you have some kind of safety checklist?
No we don't. We camp but have never and would never take any sort of fire / lamp / stove into the tent mainly for the fire risk.
If so, what steps do you take towards protecting you and your family from CO poisoning?
We are going to Turkey this summer and I'm planning on taking an alarm with us.

They would also like to find out your level of knowledge about the effects of CO poisoning:

What do you think the signs of CO poisoning are?
Headaches, lethargy, general flu symptons
Would you be able to recognise these signs?
yes, if it happened to a group, less likely individually
Would you/do you take a CO alarm on holiday with you? see above

And also about education for families of this topic:
Would you like more information on how to prevent CO poisoning in your own home or when on holiday?
Yes
What information would you like and how would you like this information to be available?
more safety campaigns / leaflets.
I have got a cheeky question for Sprue please... The beep on my FireAngel alarm is really quiet,... is that correct? I can hear it, but it is unlikely to wake me up in the middle of the night.
It is Carbon Monoxide Alarm Type B CO9B
Batch 090713

Glabella Mon 28-May-12 13:24:31

How aware are you of the dangers of CO poisoning?
Quite aware- I'm medical so have seen several cases, and there's regularly cases in the news.
Do you take any precautions to prevent CO poisoning in your own home?
We have an alarm and regularly check/service our gas appliances.
How about on holiday, do you take the same level of care in tents/caravans/self catering accommodation as you do in your own home? Do you have some kind of safety checklist?
We're very careful in tents/caravans about stoves and bbq's, but haven't checked in self catering accomodation.
If so, what steps do you take towards protecting you and your family from CO poisoning?
We always cook well away from the tent, and in the caravan use the gas stove quite rarely with lots of ventilation.

They would also like to find out your level of knowledge about the effects of CO poisoning:

What do you think the signs of CO poisoning are?
Nausea, tiredness, dizziness, headaches, feeling generally unwell, followed by vomiting, headache, unconsciousness and death.
Would you be able to recognise these signs?
I'd hope so, yes.
Would you/do you take a CO alarm on holiday with you?
Probably when camping.

And also about education for families of this topic:
Would you like more information on how to prevent CO poisoning in your own home or when on holiday?
A leaflet given out at campsites, or with stoves/barbeques might be good.

latrucha Mon 28-May-12 13:33:22

How aware are you of the dangers of CO poisoning?
I am aware of it. I suppose I don't know how aware as I haven't really read up about it.
Do you take any precautions to prevent CO poisoning in your own home?
I have a Fire Angel alarm. I do worry I rely on it totally to make me aware of any danger. I'm not sure what else to do.
How about on holiday, do you take the same level of care in tents/caravans/self catering accommodation as you do in your own home? Do you have some kind of safety checklist?
We only go to grandparents' houses. I have never thought about taking the alarm. I don't think they have one.
If so, what steps do you take towards protecting you and your family from CO poisoning?

They would also like to find out your level of knowledge about the effects of CO poisoning:

What do you think the signs of CO poisoning are? Drowsiness. Generally unwell/ flulike. Unconsciousness and death.
Would you be able to recognise these signs? It would be easy to mistake any of them for something else.
Would you/do you take a CO alarm on holiday with you? I haven't done. I could do. Purs is very portable.

And also about education for families of this topic:
Would you like more information on how to prevent CO poisoning in your own home or when on holiday? I suppose so, now it has been brought to my attention.
What information would you like and how would you like this information to be available? I can look on the website you linked.

MustControlFistOfDeath Mon 28-May-12 13:41:21

I know about the dangers, sadly a gentleman passed away at the hotel in Cornwall we were staying at for DPs birthday weekend sad.

We arrived on the Friday lunchtime, made our way out for the afternoon then as we were getting ready to go out felt really tired/drowsy/headachy but just put it down to the travelling/sea air etc. When we were out for the evening we were both fine.

We both woke up next morning with headaches, put it down to a bit too much alcohol the night before, went out for the day. Back in the room later, same thing - tired etc to the point we thought we were coming down with something and almost didn't go out for the evening.

Got back to the hotel Sat night to be met by fire service, hotel management, paramedics - hotel was evacuated due to the poor chap being found dead in his room.

Our room had 2 sash-style windows, and we had left them open the whole time (due to both of us smoking at the time blush - hotel was non-smoking) and I'm very glad we did.

We haven't been on holiday since but would absolutely take an alarm with us.

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