The danger of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is often associated with the winter months, but you can be at risk any time of year, even in the heart of summer.
Known as the silent killer, carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, poisonous gas produced by the incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels, including gas, oil, wood and coal. You can find out more about carbon monoxide and the dangers here
Carbon monoxide doesn't just pose a danger in the home. There are an increasing number of carbon monoxide related incidents that happen outside the home. Vehicles, including boats, produce carbon monoxide and fuel-burning equipment such as camping stoves, camping heaters, lanterns, charcoal grills and disposable barbecues are also sources of carbon monoxide.
Find out more about CO poisoning symptoms
As carbon monoxide is an odourless gas, it can be difficult to identify the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. Installing a carbon monoxide alarm is one way to ensure you’re always alerted to the presence of carbon monoxide, however it’s also important to recognise the most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning from BBQs – charcoal and LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas)
BBQs produce carbon monoxide even when they are working well and can continue to give off deadly carbon monoxide for hours after being extinguished.
Whether you are having a BBQ at home or on holiday it is essential to take care and make sure they are only used in properly ventilated area.
BBQ carbon monoxide safety tips
- NEVER use or take a BBQ inside, whether this is your home, a tent, awning or any enclosed area such as a caravan, motorhome or cabin.
- NEVER use a BBQ to heat your tent.
- ALWAYS use your BBQ in an open area that has plenty of ventilation, far away from tents or other sleeping areas.
If you are using an LPG BBQ, you should also:
- Make sure your equipment is in good working order and that any hoses are securely attached and not damaged.
- Change your canisters in a well-ventilated open space, follow the manufacturer's guidelines carefully and be sure to turn off the supply properly before doing so.
Being aware of CO poisoning on holiday
Over the summer many of us will be heading off on holiday. There is a chance you might be exposed to carbon monoxide when you are away, whether you’re camping, staying in a cottage, villa, caravan or in a luxury resort you could be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in the UK and abroad.
Know the dangers
When camping, caravanning or boating, despite being out in the fresh air, carbon monoxide can build up to levels that can kill very quickly in enclosed spaces, such as tents and awnings.
Boilers in hotels or holiday accommodation could be faulty or poorly maintained so could emit carbon monoxide.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur on boats when emissions from gas-powered engines and generators build up in boat cabins. It's important to make sure they are kept in good condition, checked regularly and areas are well ventilated.
Holiday safety tips
- ALWAYS pack an audible carbon monoxide alarm - an alarm is the only way to know if you are in danger.
If you are on holiday and your CO alarm sounds
- Be aware of the signs of unsafe gas appliances:
- Black marks and stains around the appliance.
- Lazy orange or yellow flames instead of crisp blue ones.
- High levels of condensation in your accommodation.
- Open all doors and windows
- Move outside into fresh air, open windows and get out of the property immediately.
- If you feel unwell (nausea, dizziness, vomiting or headache) seek immediate medical attention.
- Alert the landlord or hotel representative.
- If you are in the UK call the National Gas Emergency number FREE on 0800 111 999* immediately. It’s available 24 hours, 365 days a year. Our experts will tell you what you need to do to until an engineer arrives.
Take time out during the warm weather and get your gas appliances checked by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer.
Your gas boiler will be working even if your heating is off and faulty appliances can release carbon monoxide. Get your gas appliances checked by a Gas Safe Registered engineer
Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms
The signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are often mistaken for other illnesses, such as food poisoning or flu. Symptoms include:
- Nausea or feeling sick
- Loss of consciousness
Anyone who suspects they are suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning should immediately go outside into the fresh air and seek urgent medical attention.