Staying safe during the camping season
05 July 2018
The dangers of Carbon monoxide (CO)
As we build up to the summer holidays and the camping season is upon us, W J Fire have some helpful hints to help keep you safe and have a lovely holiday.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced when a fuel such as charcoal, gas or petrol burns incompletely. This could be because an appliance isn’t working properly or might simply happen as part of its normal function. Barbecues, for example, produce carbon monoxide even when they are working well.
Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas and is poisonous. In high concentrations it can kill swiftly. In smaller concentrations CO poisoning can give symptoms similar to flu or food poisoning. Look out for headaches, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness and weakness – but the best advice is to avoid any chance of being poisoned in the first place.
- Never take a barbecue into a tent, awning, caravan or motorhome. Even a cooling barbecue gives off plenty of poisonous carbon monoxide (CO), which can kill.
- Never use a fuel-burning appliance to heat your tent or awning. Gas and kerosene heaters – unless they are permanently fitted in a caravan or motorhome – should only be used outside. Stoves and barbecues are designed for cooking, not space heating.
- Never run a gas, petrol or diesel-powered generator inside a caravan, motorhome, tent or awning. Make sure fumes from a generator don’t blow into your unit or anyone else’s from outside either.
- Don’t cook inside your tent or awning
- Don’t use any other gas, charcoal, liquid or solid fuel appliances inside a tent or awning. Gas-powered fridges and lamps, for example, also need plenty of ventilation to prevent them producing poisonous carbon monoxide. Tents and awnings aren’t generally designed with this in mind.
- Consider using a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm, provided it is suitable for the condition you intend to use it, check with the supplier/manufacturer, though it should never be used as an alternative to the precautions above.
- Always have gas appliances in your caravan or motorhome serviced regularly.
Spotting the danger signs of CO poisoning
You cannot smell, taste or see carbon monoxide but it can kill quickly and without warning. Early stages of carbon monoxide poisoning can give symptoms similar to food poisoning or flu, though without a high temperature.
- Symptoms to look out for include: Headaches; dizziness; feeling sick; tiredness and confusion; stomach pains or shortness of breath
- Higher concentrations can give more severe symptoms: Symptoms of intoxication; vertigo, as if the environment is spinning; loss of coordination; breathlessness and high heart beat rate; seizures or unconsciousness leading to death