Beware danger of carbon monoxide tragedy this summer – Jo

Jo Swinson MP for East Dunbartonshire is urging local residents to be ‘carbon monoxide safe’ this summer as the camping and caravanning season approaches.

Tragic deaths occur every year from summertime CO poisoning, normally caused by campers bringing gas or charcoal BBQs into tents and other enclosed spaces. Generators can also produce lethal doses of the gas, especially within confined spaces such as boats.

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.

Jo Swinson’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 MPs from all political parties working to prevent CO deaths in the UK, in conjunction with research body Gas Safety Trust.

Commenting Jo 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.”

Steps to follow to avoid CO poisoning include:

  • 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.
  • Never run a gas-, petrol- or diesel-powered generator inside a caravan, motorhome, a boat, tent or awning.
  • 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.
  • Use a portable carbon monoxide alarm as an added precaution.

The information comes as a new report by the Gas Safety Trust 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.

For specific information on CO safety in boats, visit the Boat Safety Scheme website



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