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Dying to go on holiday?

It looks like for the first time in a long time, the UK may be set for a scorching summer and those choosing a staycation will hit the jackpot. There’s no denying the UK is glorious in the sun, but if you are hitting the great outdoors on a camping, caravanning or boating holiday for the first time, you may not be aware of the dangers of Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning.

In the UK, carbon monoxide poisoning in the home accounts for an average of 50 recorded deaths a year and up to 4,000 medical visits, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.

Carbon Monoxide or CO is a natural gas created by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. It has no smell, no taste and no colour, making it extremely hard to detect and therefore extremely dangerous. Symptoms are very similar to flu or 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.

Paul Harmer, Lead Technical Consultant of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) offers the following advice.  

“All landlords (including for holiday lets) must have gas safety checks annually so ask to see proof of this before you book accommodation. Additionally, always take an electronic portable Carbon Monoxide alarm on holiday, which will make noise if Carbon Monoxide is detected. If you have a battery-powered CO alarm, make sure batteries are fully charged prior to going away.” 

“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.”

“Keep a vigilant eye on any children, elderly or pregnant women in your party. CO poisoning will affect them first. So, if anyone 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 that CO as a cause.”

Those using holiday homes could also be at risk if the boiler/heat source has not been used for some time or regularly checked by a registered engineer. All appliances can develop faults, even when not in use. Likewise those camping need to remember that any portable gas or fuel burning appliances are at risk of Carbon Monoxide if they are not maintained regularly or used correctly.

Paul emphasised, “The CIPHE recommends to everyone that all aspects of plumbing and heating systems are serviced annually by a registered industry professional in order to ensure they are safe. For added peace of mind, make sure they are a member of the CIPHE too. CIPHE members all abide by a Code of Professional Standards as well as having proven skills and experience.” 

For more information on Carbon Monoxide poisoning visit www.ciphe.org.uk/CO

To find a registered heating engineer in your area visit www.ciphe.org.uk/find-a-plumber