Swimming costume – check. Sun lotion – check. Inflatable lilo – check.
Your holiday packing is almost complete but you’ve got that nagging feeling that there is something missing from your suitcase.
Well, if you are heading off to a holiday apartment, cottage, caravan or even boat, you have most likely forgotten to pack one small item that could make all the difference to your long-awaited vacation – a carbon monoxide (CO) detector.
At The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), we recommend that people take a small, portable CO detector with them whether they are going home or abroad to prevent tragedies that we have sadly seen many times before.
Carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer because you can’t see it, hear it, smell it or taste it, meaning its deadly fumes can act without families even realising it, often through the night while they are asleep.
The problem is that fumes can be caused by a faulty or badly-serviced gas and other fossil fuel-burning appliance, whether it’s a heater, gas stove, generator or even barbecue in an enclosed space.
Seven-year-old Christianna Shepherd and her six-year-old brother Robert, from Wakefield in West Yorkshire, died from carbon monoxide poisoning during a holiday in Corfu after a faulty boiler leaked gas into the hotel bungalow where they were staying in October 2006.
Last year, an Easter boating holiday turned into tragedy when 36-year-old mum Kelly Webster and her 10-year-old daughter Laura Thornton died after inhaling CO fumes as they slept on a moored motor cruiser on Lake Windermere in the Lake District. Investigators found that fumes from a generator, whose improvised exhaust and silencer system had become detached, had spread into the cabin.
So, when you get to your holiday home, here are three simple tips to remember:
- Take a portable CO detector to check for any signs of the dangerous gas – these can be bought for just a few pounds from most DIY stores but are priceless in terms of the lives they can save
- Make sure the premises are well ventilated and never use a barbecue inside
- Be aware of the symptoms and dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.
RoSPA’s carbon monoxide safety website has more details on CO symptoms but the main signs to look out for include:
- suffering prolonged flu-like symptoms – headaches, nausea, breathlessness or dizziness
- the boiler pilot light flames burning orange, instead of blue
- sooty stains on or near appliances
- excessive condensation in the room
Just knowing a few of the signs to look out for will already have equipped you with some useful knowledge. This RoSPA video, below, highlights why being aware of carbon monoxide is so important.
I’m sure you will have a lovely break and I’ll leave you to get on with that packing. Oh, and remember, when summer is over, it will be time to arrange for that all important Autumn service to your boiler at home.
Alison Brinkworth, RoSPA public health support officer.