Archive for August 16th, 2011

16 August, 2011

Time for education on carbon monoxide?

Tragically, another death due to suspected carbon monoxide poisoning has been reported in today’s news. There have been three cases in just a few weeks. In July a 30-year-old woman camping in Norfolk, and a 50-year-old man camping in the New Forest, died of CO suspected poisoning.

Although accidents like this are not common, they’re not unheard of – and this summer has, sadly, seen more than its fair share of tragedy.

The dangers of carbon monoxide are relatively well known when it comes to houses and holiday homes, with organisations such as RoSPA and the Gas Safe Register getting the message across that regular servicing and maintenance of gas appliances is vital for safety.

However, it seems that too few people are aware that any type of fossil fuel produces CO when it is burned incompletely – including gas stoves, wood stoves and barbecues. In an enclosed space like a tent, with little ventilation, using them for warmth is extremely dangerous.

We would recommend that people don’t cook inside tents at all if possible, largely due to the fire risk rather than that posed by CO; however, it is imperative that campers don’t take fuel-burning devices into tents for warmth overnight, when symptoms of CO poisoning will be masked by sleep.

RoSPA is particularly concerned about those who are new to camping, as everyday tasks carried out at home become a totally different kettle of fish in a tent.

Don’t underestimate how cold it can get, even in the summer! The ground sucks warmth out of you, so invest in a good all-season sleeping bag (or take your duvet!) as well as an airbed or roll-mat to insulate against the cold floor.

Take a look at our previous camping blog for more safety information, as well as general advice.

If you’re cold, and tempted to bring in a heat source from outside, think again – layer up.

Is it time to step up information campaigns about carbon monoxide for the next generation?

Vicky Fraser, RoSPA’s press officer/web editor

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