Witheridge family saved from carbon monoxide gas

DEVON and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has issued safety advice to the public after a family in Witheridge was saved from a potentially lethal situation when they were alerted to high levels of carbon monoxide. The family were evacuated from the prop

DEVON and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has issued safety advice to the public after a family in Witheridge was saved from a potentially lethal situation when they were alerted to high levels of carbon monoxide.

The family were evacuated from the property, but one woman was taken to hospital suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Firefighters used a gas monitor and picked up high levels of carbon monoxide, which had spread to the upper floor from the lounge. This is believed to have resulting from the use of a wood burning stove.

The fire service is working closely with the housing provider to ensure that correct safety information and carbon monoxide detection is available to householders.


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Barnstaple Group Manager Martin Davis said: "It is important to understand that carbon monoxide is a by-product of any combustion process and not just from gas appliances. Carbon monoxide detection is appropriate for types of fuel that involve combustion as a process, from solid fuel through to oil and gas."

Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service issued the following potentially lifesaving advice to the public:

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* Carbon monoxide (CO) can kill, but it cannot be seen, has no smell, taste or colour.

* Signs of appliances not working efficiently are unusual flame colour, soot or staining around appliances, pilot lights going out more frequently, and an increase in condensation on the windows.

* If you do suspect you or other occupants have been affected, open windows, switch off appliance and, if possible, gas supply and contact a registered gas engineer immediately.

* Accidents involving carbon monoxide most commonly occur as a result of faulty central heating systems, gas appliances and fires. Blocked flues and chimneys mean the gas can't escape and is inhaled by the unsuspecting individual.

* Heating appliances should be serviced regularly by a competent person (gas safe registered engineer).

The Fire Service also emphasises the need for awareness of risks associated with carbon monoxide:

* You can be particularly at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning when you are asleep. Having an audible carbon monoxide alarm could wake you and save your life.

* Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can include tiredness, drowsiness, headaches, giddiness, nausea, vomiting, pains in the chest, breathlessness and stomach pains.

* Always make sure there is enough fresh air in the room containing your gas appliance. If you have a chimney or a flue, ensure it is not blocked up and also ensure that vents are not covered.

* If you plan to install a gas fire in a bedroom, use a Gas Safe Registered engineer. Do not use flueless appliances such as paraffin heaters and cabinet heaters.

* Get your chimney swept from top to bottom at least once a year by a qualified sweep.

* If you live in a tenanted property your landlord has a legal duty to check the gas fittings once a year and issue you with an inspection certificate as proof.

* If you think you have been affected by CO poisoning seek immediate medical help from your GP or casualty department. CO may not kill you but can cause long term damage if you have been inhaling it over a period of time.

For more information on the effects of carbon monoxide to health you can visit NHS Direct www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk or telephone 0845 4647.

Gas Emergency number freephone 0800 111 999.

HSE Gas Safety Advice Line freephone 0800 300 363.

For a Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service home safety visit call freephone 0800 7311 822

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