This week is Carbon Monoxide awareness week. You can't see it, you can't touch it, and you can't taste it, but CO kills around 40 people in the UK every year. A further 200 are hospitalised with suspected CO poisoning. The symptoms - headaches, dizziness, nausea, and breathlessness - could be mistaken for any number of other things, and by the time collapse and unconsciousness hit, it could already be too late. Even very low levels of carbon monoxide, when breathed in over an extended period of time, can cause serious long term problems like paralysis and brain damage.
What is Carbon Monoxide?
For more on the science behind it all, check out this video on YouTube. When you breathe CO in it prevents your red blood cells from carrying oxygen, which is what will result in death if left unchecked.
It COuld Happen To You
I live in Cwmbran, a town that has seen more than its fair share of carbon monoxide related tragedy over the last decade. In 2005 14-year-old Alex Mitchell was found dead by her mother - the 'rogue' tradesman who fitted their gas fire was later jailed for two years. (There is a Facebook awareness page for her HERE, and there is an annual 'Alex's Shield' award given to a Fairwater High pupil who excels in music.) Then in 2009 18-year-old Jordan Ball and 19-year-old Dean Lewis died of carbon monoxide poisoning; the culprit was a faulty gas heater in the summer house they were sleeping in after a night out. I never knew them - but I could have, and that is a sobering thought.
How can I stay safe?
If you think you have inhaled carbon monoxide gas, you need to turn off your appliance and leave the house. Once out in the fresh air ring the National Gas Emergency Helpline (it covers gas and CO leaks) on 0800 111 999.
CORGI Home Plan are raising awareness of carbon monoxide by asking How often do you check yours? They are also giving away a FireAngel carbon monoxide alarm to one lucky reader! You can get up to five entries by filling out the Gleam form below:
This competition has now ended.