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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."

KatieBMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 06-Jun-12 10:23:43

Thanks to everyone who has taken part in this discussion, the winners of the prize draw are:
£150 Amazon voucher: Pozzled
FireAngel CO-9X carbon monoxide alarm:
sis
deepfriedcupcake
DazR
RickGhastley
ZuzuBailey

Congratulations - I'll PM you all to get your details.

FurCough Wed 06-Jun-12 08:29:21

How aware are you of the dangers of CO poisoning?
Fairly aware. There was a death in our community a few years ago and it prompted me to get more clued up. Sad that it took that though.

Do you take any precautions to prevent CO poisoning in your own home?
Our rented house had an alarm installed which the engineer tests once a year.

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 stayed in a caravan last year that had an alarm intalled. No actual 'checklist'

If so, what steps do you take towards protecting you and your family from CO poisoning?
We're camping this year and have a portable alarm to take, after hearing the reports of recent poisoning incidents.

What do you think the signs of CO poisoning are?
Headaches, sleepiness, nausea?

Would you be able to recognise these signs?
Not sure. Might mistake them for flu / hangover etc.

Would you/do you take a CO alarm on holiday with you?
Yes, but we're getting conflicting advice. The Caravan Club (i think it was them) released some guidelines saying that household alarms were not as effective in tents, but didn't expand on what would work instead.

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?
In tenant information packs, holiday welcome packs etc as well as online.

PepeLePew Mon 04-Jun-12 17:14:41

How aware are you of the dangers of CO poisoning?

Reasonably aware. I think.

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

We have a CO alarm, and get our gas boiler and fire serviced each year.

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?

I've never thought of this.

If so, what steps do you take towards protecting you and your family from CO poisoning?

None

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

Would you be able to recognise these signs?

I don't know if I would assume that was what the problem was

Would you/do you take a CO alarm on holiday with you?

I don't. I might if I had a portable one

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?

An app would be useful

How aware are you of the dangers of CO poisoning?

I'd like to think we're very aware.

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

We have a carbon monoxide alarm in the front room. That and the kitchen are the only rooms with gas burning 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?

We take the alarm with us.

^ Do you have some kind of safety checklist?
If so, what steps do you take towards protecting you and your family from CO poisoning? ^

No - we do rely on the alarm. We haven't been anywhere with a gas burner lately though.

^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? ^

Sleepiness and headache, lethargy and fuzziness? If I felt any of these I would open windows, get outside and think about possible causes. I've already mentioned we take the CO alarm with us on holidays - prompted by the dreadful tragedies both abroad and in this country.

^ould 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?^

I think there definitely needs to be more education other than "Carbon monoxide kills". We need to ensure people are aware of the symptoms of CO poisoning and what to do if they suspect CO is building up.

klaxon Mon 04-Jun-12 06:30:51

Update as a result of this thread I did look up the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and as a result, when our gas boiler broke yesterday we had the gas emergency people out - who condemned our heating system as it was leaking shock - so thank you Mumsnet. We are now cold but alive!

Belmo Sun 03-Jun-12 11:57:29

I would say I'm a bit aware of the dangers of CO poisoning, I know it can make you sick/dizzy and/or kill you, but I don't know how common it is and don't know anyone who's ever experienced it.
I don't have a CO alarm at home, have been meaning to for ages, might get one this weekend!
I don't do anything differently on holiday, am generally careful, would never cook in a tent etc but don't really know what else I should be doing.
I think the signs of CO posoning are feeling sick and dizzy but not sure I would recognise it. Can see why taking an alarm on holiday would be a good idea.
Yes to more information.

glitch Sun 03-Jun-12 11:04:49

How aware are you of the dangers of CO poisoning?
I am aware of the risk.
Do you take any precautions to prevent CO poisoning in your own home?
I have an alarm in my house.
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?
I don't do anything when we go on holiday.

What do you think the signs of CO poisoning are?
I'm not really sure, headaches, dizzyness perhaps.
Would you be able to recognise these signs?
I'm not certain what the signs are.
Would you/do you take a CO alarm on holiday with you?
I don't take one with me. Perhaps it is something I should do in future.

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?
Signs of co poisoning, perhaps a leaflet or online but short points not reams of info.

I am aware of the dangers of CO poisoning. We live in a rental property and a while ago had a gas safety check where they condemned our gas hob! Was quite scary to think it could have potentially caused us some serious harm. I was in the early stages of pregnancy at the time. We've since bought a CO alarm for our flat now.

Interestingly and scarily though, I've never even thought about it when going on holiday! It's a really good issue to raise and something I'll definitely think about.

I think the signs of CO poisoning are drowsiness/falling asleep, headaches, feeling generally unwell. I worry though that you wouldn't really notice/see the signs until it was too late. If I had an alarm I'd definitely take it on holiday (if possible).

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? Online info/Q&A

Jinsei Sat 02-Jun-12 09:01:53

How aware are you of the dangers of CO poisoning?
Somewhat aware, but not very knowledgeable.

Do you take any precautions to prevent CO poisoning in your own home?
We have an alarm which I bought after reading a thread on MN, but that's all really. Not sure what other precautions I could take, but will have a read of this thread later!

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 and no. blush Though I did notice an alarm in the caravan we rented last year.

If so, what steps do you take towards protecting you and your family from CO poisoning?
None blush

What do you think the signs of CO poisoning are?
I think drowsiness is one, and nausea. Not sure what else.

Would you be able to recognise these signs?
Wouldn't necessarily link them to CO poisoning. sad

Would you/do you take a CO alarm on holiday with you?
I haven't ever done this, but yes, I would probably do it from now on.

Would you like more information on how to prevent CO poisoning in your own home or when on holiday?
Yes, definitely.

What information would you like and how would you like this information to be available?
More general info about the risks, effects and precautions we should take - I feel very ignorant at the moment. Not sure how I'd want it, but I think lots of people lack awareness of this, so some sort of public awareness campaign is needed. And perhaps more regulation as well?

LynnCSchreiber Sat 02-Jun-12 00:17:48

btw, I noticed that Tesco had a sign up next to their BBQs warning of CO poisoning. Could have done with being slightly more prominently placed - we tripped over it.

christmasmum Fri 01-Jun-12 17:32:50

We just bought a tent a few months ago and have only done back garden camping so far but intend to head off on our first proper camp soon. I had no idea of the dangers of taking a BBQ inside the tent and had never noticed any advice about this before buying our tent. Thank goodness for mumsnet forums which highlighted the issue for me! I would highly recommend this issue gets highlighted anywhere and everywhere possible this summer, particularly at campsites where I think it should be a mandatory notice and pointed out to everyone who arrives. I think with the current economic climate a lot of inexperienced people (myself included) are taking to camping as a cheaper family holiday option and may have no knowledge of this risk.

ParlGasSafetyGroup Fri 01-Jun-12 13:29:27

Hello Mumsnetters

We're the All Party Parliamentary Gas Safety Group - a group of parliamentarians from all political parties who work together to try to raise awareness of CO safety both in parliament and beyond. Our chairs are Barry Sheerman, MP for Huddersfield, and Baroness Finlay.

We're certainly keen to say take part here - thanks to Sprue for the invitation.

(You can find out more about us at our website - http://www.policyconnect.org.uk/appgsg/)

It's good to see that the issue CO danger in the summer months (from BBQs, faulty caravan equipment and other sources) is being discussed here. Not enough people realise that CO is just as great a threat in the holiday period. We've been working for many years with industry and charities, as well as parliamentary colleagues, to get the message across to the public that you must be vigilant throughout the year.

Last year we launched a large-scale inquiry into 'Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning', drawing together data and evidence from across the UK and producing recommendations for government. Some of the data is startling: 200 people are admitted to hospital annually with CO poisoning, while at least another 4,000 suffer from low level effects - at a cost of £178 million a year for the NHS. We're glad to say that government are listening to us and many of our recommendations are being taken up. There's a lot more to do though.

Baroness Finlay, one of the chairs of the APPGSG, was keen to add something:

"Delighted that Mumsnet are focusing on CO safety. It's precisely the sort of forum we need to get the message about CO safety through to - to mums across the UK who are rightly concerned about the safety of their families in their home. I've met the families of so many CO poisoning victims. CO alarms are so very cheap - please, do install one and do maintain it. It could very well be the difference between safety and tragedy."

We, the APPGSG officers, are looking forward to reading more of the posts on here. Thanks all....

How aware are you of the dangers of CO poisoning?

Somewhat - I heard about someone dying in student accommodation from this a few years ago.

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

I live with friends atm, and I don't think they have a CO alarm, I think I need to get one for the house though.

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 - this has never crossed my mind on holiday.

If so, what steps do you take towards protecting you and your family from CO poisoning?

None :-/

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?

Headache, nausea, drowsiness...I think.

Would you be able to recognise these signs?

Yes - but not sure I would immediately attribute them to CO poisoning.

Would you/do you take a CO alarm on holiday with you?

No, but it is worth considering in the 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?

It would be a good thing if this kind of information was given more often,

What information would you like and how would you like this information to be available?

Unsure about best method!

I think I am very aware of CO poisoning - we have a couple of alarms in the house (the gas central heating boiler is in a cupboard off DS1'S bedroom so there is an electronic one in there).

I take a battery operated co alarm when we go away to holiday cottages, villlas, gites etc because I remember at the time hearing about the little brother and sister who died on holiday in 2006.

I haven't however worried about it when camping until now. We don't cook or bbq near the tent but we do have a gas heater we have used in winter inside the tent - we won't be doing now!!

DesperateBauhausWife Thu 31-May-12 21:57:28

I am fairly aware are of the dangers of CO poisoning. I have a CO alarm in the living room on a high shelf, keep the air bricks unblocked, and we have a window vent in the living room.

On holiday, we don't take the same level of care in tents/caravans/self catering accommodation. We don't have a safety checklist.

I don't know what the signs of CO poisoning are really, but would guess you would generally feel unwell. Unfortunately in some tragic cases it is fatal.

I would take an alarm on holiday if I remembered. I should think I could just take my one from home.

I Would like more information on how to prevent CO poisoning at home and on holiday.

I would like it in the form of an attractively designed postcard so I could pin it up as a constant reminder.

NarkedPuffin Thu 31-May-12 15:08:33

How aware are you of the dangers of CO poisoning?
Fairly
Do you take any precautions to prevent CO poisoning in your own home?
We have Corgi checks and CO 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?
I take a CO alarm
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?
Alarm and never doing anything stupid like bringing a BBQ into a tent. I always have the windows open in houses even in winter anyway

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?
Like flu without the temperature
Would you be able to recognise these signs?
Yes
Would you/do you take a CO alarm on holiday with you?
Yes

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?
Not for me
What information would you like and how would you like this information to be available?
*I'd like all campsites/caravan parks to be legally required to post a sign with info about what not to do and symptoms. I'd like all holiday rental properties to have a CO alarm as well as a smoke alarm.

LynnCSchreiber Thu 31-May-12 14:51:37

Thanks, Katie and Sprue Safety. That eases my mind.

MerseyfireHomesafety Thu 31-May-12 13:53:25

Merseyside & West Midlands Fire Services have just completed an extensive awareness study for Carbon Monoxide. The aim of the study was to measure the extent of possible long term, low level carbon monoxide (CO) exposure in the Merseyside and Coventry areas and look for trends and patterns that would identify any particular demographic that may be at a higher risk to potential CO poisoning. Approximately 30,000 homes were visited during an 2 year period as part of the daily work of firefighters when carrying out Home Fire Safety Checks (risk assessment and fitting of smoke detectors). The data was firstly anonymised by removing the occupants name and address, leaving the postcode. The remainder of the data will allow the study to investigate any social links to the risk of CO poisoning, these are examples of some of the questions we asked during the visit - plus took a CO reading with a monitoring device.

Primary heating method
Primary cooking method
Any smokers in household
Any children aged under
Exisiting CO alarm fitted
Type of house - terraced, detacted, bungalow, flat etc
Occupancy status - owned, private rented, social rented etc
Gas safety certificate - currency
Chimney (if so, had this been swept)
Any recent GP visits
Signs and symptoms

We will post further updates on findings over coming days

KatieBMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 31-May-12 12:09:07

Sprue Safety Products has asked for this information to be posted:

"We’d like to clear up the misconception that carbon monoxide is heavier than normal air and that it sinks. Carbon Monoxide is actually slightly lighter than the average air in our homes and is the result of incomplete combustion of any fossil fuel. As such it is likely to be warm and the combination of weight and warmth will cause the CO to rise.

It is recommended that in any room containing an appliance the CO alarm should be placed higher than the highest opening to the room, such as a door, window or air vent. This will ensure that if CO is present and rises to the ceiling, the alarm will be able sense the CO. If the alarm was placed lower, it is possible that clean air coming through the door, window or air vent would dilute the CO and fail to trigger the alarm.

In rooms without an appliance or possible CO source, it is likely that CO will have travelled from another room and is likely to have mixed generally with the air. It is therefore recommended that the alarm should be placed in the general breathing area for the room - for example in a bedroom without an appliance placing an alarm around pillow height is ideal."

bubby64 Thu 31-May-12 11:45:15

How aware are you of the dangers of CO poisoning?
I am conscious of the risk

Do you take any precautions to prevent CO poisoning in your own home?
I have a battery operated monitor near our boiler cupboard, used to have the colour change spot type, but after kids went on a "Crucial Crew" event with the school, we changed it. The kids now do the check on both CO2 and fire alarms monthly!

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?
We have a monitor in the caravan, never thought about it when we went abroad. Also, never knew about the barbeque thing, although we never do this near caravan or awning dure to fire risk.

What do you think the signs of CO poisoning are?
Persistant headaches, red mucus membranes/lips, lethargy.

Would you be able to recognise these signs?
I hope so, yes.

Would you/do you take a CO alarm on holiday with you?
We have one fitted in the caravan, never thought to take one elsewhere.

Would you like more information on how to prevent CO poisoning in your own home or when on holiday?
Yes please - the safety of my family is paramount with me!

What information would you like and how would you like this information to be available?
Info in caravan and camping stockests and travel agents ie posters and leaflets in promenant place, TV campaign, specific ones about different holiday situations as well as the ones about your home. Inso in bold /prominant position on barbeque charcoal/instant BBqs etc.

MrsApplepants Thu 31-May-12 10:17:02

I'm really glad this thread was started. I'm paranoid about CO poisoning. Have gas boiler, hob and wood burner, get hob and boiler serviced annually and chimney swept, wood burner inspected annually. Have audible CO alarms in all rooms where these things are. Always take one of them on holiday or when staying in hotel. Don't camp so don't know much about risks of this. One of the scary things about CO is that the symptoms are so easy to put down to something else, eg tiredness, virus.

I think all rented properties should have CO alarms fitted as standard, by law, and information leaflets for homeowners could be provided by solicitors/ mortgage providers (I don't think it should be too much to ask for them to include a leaflet with their paperwork and it would mean that the info would reach the homeowner before they move in so that they are aware) as when you buy a home you don't really know its safe until you've had the appliances serviced.

I also think GP surgeries are good places for posters etc and also if someone could invent a good, reasonably priced, travel alarm, fitted with batteries, they should be sold next to the sun cream/ holiday essentials items in shops.

A bug, bright warning ticket on all camping equipment especially tents warning of the dangers would also be good. Posters at campsites etc

A symptoms card/ fridge magnet a good idea. Maybe ( this might be a bit extreme, greetings card companies who produce 'happy new home' cards could print a message on the reverse of the card about CO?

Carefully thought out education for schools also a good idea, would help to highlight and create awareness at home.

Perhaps an ad campaign about dangers re camping would be a good idea, also perhaps a short code that people can remember to reduce the risks. Maybe some myth busting re CO would help too. Eg I think some people still think it smells like regular gas.

How aware are you of the dangers of CO poisoning?

I am aware of it. Back in the 80's my friend's 2 teenage cousins died in a caravan from CO2 poisoning.

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

Yes, I have a Kidde CO2 alarm.

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?

I've never thought about it in relation to holiday accommodation, although I do remember the children who died in Greece through CO2 poisoning.

If so, what steps do you take towards protecting you and your family from CO poisoning?

Our CO2 alarm is plugged in upstairs outside our bedrooms because I figure that we are more at risk overnight than during the day.

I worry most about my son's bedroom as it sits right above where the boiler is situated downstairs.

What do you think the signs of CO poisoning are?

Drowsiness. Generally unwell/ flulike.

Would you be able to recognise these signs? It would be easy to mistake any of them for something else.

Don't think I would recognise them actually. It is really easy to mistake it for just a headache, etc.

Would you/do you take a CO alarm on holiday with you?

I haven't done but it's a good idea.

maples Thu 31-May-12 00:26:27

We have an alarm and I test it regularly. We get appliances serviced regularly too. sad so sad to hear about the recent death.

LynnCSchreiber Wed 30-May-12 22:16:12

I have not heard much about this, as we lived abroad until recently.

It would not have occurred to me to have an alarm fitted, or to take one on holiday, but I would certainly do so after reading some of the stories on this thread. My sympathies to anyone who has lost a loved one due to CO poisoning.

I do have one question - the alarm should be fitted low? My parents have one and it is fitted high up, at the top of the door.

I would welcome more information on this, including the best place to put the detector.

Pozzled Wed 30-May-12 21:57:22

We have a carbon monoxide detector and obviously make sure everything is switched off at night. I am aware of the dangers but it's not something I've ever particularly worried about. I certainly wouldn't have thought of taking a CO alarm on holiday.

As far as symptoms go, I wasn't really aware of any early symptoms, just that it can cause you to lose consciousness or die. Thinking logically though, it makes sense that it would cause drowsiness, confusion, maybe headaches first.

I have camped a lot and had no idea that you could have an issue with CO in tents, and I didn't know barbecues emitted CO. I would never have anything hot in or close to a tent, but have stored gas canisters in the porch- now I'm wondering how safe that is.

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