Staycation nation

Ben Hershey Danger

In Public safety

With many finding their holiday abroad cancelled, there will be those of us looking for a UK break this summer. Whether you are a seasoned camper, or renting a holiday home, there are some golden rules to follow when it comes to the dangers of Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning.

In England and Wales, this type of poisoning accounts for an average of 60 recorded deaths a year and up to 4,000 medical visits. Carbon Monoxide is a natural gas created by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. Crucially, it has no smell, no taste and no colour, making it extremely hard to detect.

Symptoms are very similar to flu, coronavirus and food poisoning, so victims are often unaware they are feeling the effects of a deadly killer, putting it down to a bug or something they ate. CO poisoning will affect children, the elderly and pregnant women first. So, if anyone in your party starts feeling symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, lack of concentration, memory loss, disorientation, irritability and tightness across the chest, you need to consider the possibility of CO as a cause.

While most of us know that appliances such as gas boilers and cookers can emit CO gas and should be serviced regularly, how do you know your holiday let has had all the relevant gas safety checks? Those using holiday homes could also be at risk if the boiler/heat source has not been used for some time due to Covid-19 closures, or not regularly checked by a registered engineer.

Covid-19 has greatly disrupted the industry and made mandatory gas safety checks more difficult during lockdown, therefore the law has some flexibility at this time – see the Gas Safe website for more information.

In the current circumstances it would be prudent to find out the gas safety status of the place you propose to rent before booking.

Gas safety also applies if you are camping too. Portable gas or fuel burning appliances, as well as engines and BBQs can emit Carbon Monoxide if they are not maintained regularly or used correctly. All appliances can develop faults, even when not in use.

Whether you are going away or staying at home, NEVER take a previously lit BBQ inside, as both lit and dying coals can emit CO. This advice stands whether it’s a house, flat, tent, camper van or boat. Deadly fumes can build in seconds in confined spaces.

Finally, when going on holiday, make sure you take an electronic portable Carbon Monoxide alarm that will make noise if Carbon Monoxide is detected. If you have a battery-powered CO alarm, make sure the batteries are fully charged prior to going away.

For more information on Carbon Monoxide poisoning and other dangers visit our plumbing health hazards hub.

Suspect a problem? To find a registered heating engineer in your area use our find a professional online tool.