May 07

The Silent Killer

Carbon Monoxide and Child Safety


Despite what the recent weather and unseasonal temperatures might have you believe, summer is actually just around the corner and the holiday season will be in full and fanciful swing for families up and down the country before you can say – “please let the holidays be over soon”.

But wherever you are going to unwind and relax (and good luck with that if you have kids) it’s imperative that you keep yourself and your children safe from ‘The Silent Killer’ – Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning.

CO poisoning will take the lives of up to 50 people in the UK this year and hundreds more lives will be lost across the globe because of it; you won’t see it, smell it, taste it or touch it, but unless you take the time to understand it, it could very well be you that is counting the cost.

CO poisoning is the biggest cause of accidental deaths in the UK every year, yet unlike campaigns about fire safety and seasonal safety adverts about diving into rivers or setting off fireworks, CO poisoning coverage is pretty limited.

But a few simple tips on what to look out for should see you safe and sound, not just throughout your jollies, but in everyday life too. So what is it and how can you keep your family safe from it?

Carbon Monoxide is produced from the incomplete burning of carbon based fuels – gas, coal, oil and wood. The majority of cases in the home stem from badly installed or damaged appliances that have prevented fuel from burning properly or, if you have a chimney and a cosy open fire, blockages like birds’ nests stopping exhaust fumes from escaping will lead to the same outcome.

The best way to ensure that these problems are avoided is to have your boiler checked every 12 months and invest in a carbon monoxide alarm that is battery powered – that way it still works if you have a blackout.

There are also a number of things that you and your children can look for around the home that could warn you of a potential carbon monoxide leak -

  • Increased condensation on windows and even walls
  • Yellow or brown discolouration around your boiler
  • Flames that look yellow instead of blue

All of these things are physical signs that you may have a problem with carbon monoxide.

Also, if you have pets, your dog might seem a little lethargic and your cat will probably refuse to come into the house, so be sure to teach the kids to keep a keen eye on the animals.

But the safety doesn’t just stop in your home, carbon monoxide can be found in all sorts of places and can affect you when you least expect it.

If you’re going camping this year, don’t bring any heaters inside the tent. Even small gas heaters can give off enough CO to have a fatal effect, so be sure to pack a few extra jumpers and make sure you have a thick, cosy sleeping bag instead.

And then there’s the barbeques.

The story of Hannah Thomas-Jones is a case in point.

When out camping, Hannah and her family took the decision to move their disposable barbeque inside their tent to keep warm; a really bad idea that unwittingly led to Hannah’s death.

Even cold barbeques give off carbon monoxide, and Hannah – who was only 14 when the tragedy struck – died from the fumes that her family had no idea about.

CO awareness should be at the forefront of every family’s safety routine. Don’t get caught out by the biggest accidental killer in the UK!

Visit www.thesilentkiller.co.uk for more information on CO poisoning and help on how to keep you and your family safe.

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