Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Be CO2 aware on your camping holiday

This weekend’s tragic news highlights yet again the potentially devastating dangers of what has become known as ‘the silent killer’ – carbon monoxide (CO2) poisoning. With the holiday season just starting, more and more cost-conscious holidaymakers are opting for a camping holiday, but campers need to be aware that fuel-powered camping equipment can be potentially dangerous to your health – and even fatal.

Being CO aware and taking simple measures could literally save your life.

How to Avoid or Reduce the Risks
• Camping usually involves a tent, camper or caravan. When combustibles are used within these enclosed quarters without proper ventilation people in close proximity are at high risk of carbon monoxide poisoning
• Lanterns, space heaters, portable grills, gas burning appliances, and other fuel-powered equipment should only be lit and burnt outside
• Ensure tents, campers, caravans and any other enclosed areas are adequately ventilated
• When using gas burning units such as the portable stove in your caravan, or gas lanterns in your tent, keep the door or windows open
• Always cook at least 2-3 metres away from your tent
• Never use or bring a barbecue into a tent. Carbon monoxide will still be released from the hot coals
• When camping at high altitudes, the effects of carbon monoxide are heightened and consequently, more care is required. Also, when alcohol or drugs are ingested the negative effects of CO inhalation are intensified
• Camping in cold weather is especially dangerous for carbon monoxide poisoning because there is a frequent need for heating units and a strong tendency to stay inside due to the weather. Choosing other alternatives like electrical or battery-operated models is highly recommended

Figures from the Department for Health suggest that 4,000 people a year are poisoned by carbon monoxide, with 200 being admitted to hospital1. Last year, 50 people died from the effects of CO2 poisoning – a dramatic increase from four deaths the previous year2 – and the cost to the NHS is estimated at £178 million a year.

Badly-fitted appliances, which use gas or other household fuels such as coal and wood, along with faulty boilers, flues or poorly ventilated ovens are often to blame. Worryingly, CO2 can also enter a property from adjoining households.

But the workplace can also pose a hazard and the spate of camping incidents in recent years shows the potentially fatal risk of CO2 poisoning from taking barbecues into tents.

Nick Rutter, managing director of Sprue Safety Products, the UK’s leading manufacturer and supplier of CO alarms, said: “Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous, potentially fatal gas produced from fuel-powered camping equipment - including barbecues. With no colour, taste or smell, it is totally invisible to the human senses. Because the gas is so difficult to detect and the symptoms (such as headaches) so common to other complaints, many people can be poisoned without knowing it. The actual number of people affected is thought to be much higher.

“Carbon monoxide is potentially fatal, but exposure to low levels of the gas over just a few hours can be just as lethal as high levels over a short amount of time, causing lasting damage to your health,” added Nick.

“With such serious potential consequences, CO2 safety should be given the same attention as fire safety and we strongly support the call from the All Party Parliamentary Gas Safety Group for the co-operation of Government, industry, and the health sector to take simple measures which will help raise awareness, improve detection and develop better regulation which will ultimately save lives.

“We are also supporting the charity, CO2 Angels’ ’10 by 20’ campaign, in a bid to install CO2 alarms in 10 million homes across the UK by 2020.”

Warning Signs:

The early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to ‘flu’. They can include:

• nausea
• dizziness
• tiredness
• headaches
• stomach pains
• chest pains

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.

More severe symptoms are respiratory problems and brain damage leading potentially to death.

If you are concerned about the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning whilst on holiday in the UK or abroad, you can take a battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm with you.

When you buy a carbon monoxide alarm, make sure it meets current British and European safety standards. Look for alarms marked with the name of the European Standard 'BSEN 50291:2001' and with the 'CE' mark, which should be found on the packaging.

For more information on the CO alarms available from Sprue Safety Products, visit: www.fireangel.co.uk.
Sprue Safety Products supports the CO Angels’ ’10 by 20’ campaign, in a bid to install CO alarms in 10 million homes across the UK by 2020. For more information on how you can back the bid, please visit www.co-angels.co.uk

1 comment:

  1. There are some significant errors in this article, mainly the difference between Carbon Dioxide(CO2) and Carbon Monoxide (CO) which are like chalk and cheese!
    Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is an inert gas present in the atmosphere. It is non-toxic. Animals breath in Oxygen and breath out CO2. Plants restore this balance by feeding on CO2 through their leaves and releasing Oxygen (O2) back into the atmosphere. This is why de-forestation is such a disaster to the planet. The trees provide the Oxygen we need to live.

    Carbon MONoxide (CO) is a deadly gas created when ANY fossil fuel is burned. It kills by attaching itself to the Haemoglobin cells, or red cells in the blood. These cells are used to transport Oxygen around the body. Once CO is attached they are unable to attach to Oxygen molecules so slowly but surely the body is deprived of precious Oxygen.

    Mild exposure wil result in some of the symptoms above, but once removed from the source of CO the body will regenerate the now useless red cells which "die off" naturally, and the victim will make a full recovery.

    The effects are cumulative, so short exposure at high levels is the same as low exposure for long periods.

    The killer is the long exposure whilst sleeping. Since you are asleep you experience no symptoms and slowly fall unconcious. Continued exposure will result in certain death.

    A very clear warning sign of CO exposure is cherry-red lips, gums and nail beds, but these will only show after significant levels of exposure.