Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Family who were woken by carbon monoxide alarm had a ‘lucky escape’

A FIRE station manager said a family had a ‘lucky escape’ when their carbon monoxide alarm woke them up.

A fire crew from Delabole was alerted to what was originally thought to be a chimney fire at Pennkarn, Delabole, around 4am last Friday morning (April 8).

Delabole station manager Mark Saltern told the Post the occupants — a man, woman and two children aged seven and eight — ‘didn’t really know what to do’ when the alarm sounded.

He added: “They ended up ringing the fire brigade, which turned us out obviously. They put it down as a chimney fire. Then we saw on our print out it was something to do with a detector going off. A carbon monoxide detector raised the alarm.

“It had a reading of around 30 parts per million (ppm). When we turned up and tested with ours it was around 90ppm.”

Although Mr Saltern said the reading ‘comes into a low category’, he said the detector going off ‘gave them an early warning’: “They had a lucky escape in my mind. Without the detector, within two hours they would have felt the effects of headaches, nausea, sickness.

“With two kids as well they were lucky to have a detector.

“We have had deaths in the county from carbon monoxide. You can’t replace a life. It could have been a lot worse.”

Vanessa Pickard and her fiancé Mathew Gettings were able to get the children, Thomas and Morgan, along with their dog, out of the house before calling the fire brigade.

Vanessa said: “We are so lucky to have the local boys at the fire station who are willing to volunteer and come out in the middle of the night to help in these matters.

“We weren’t aware it was our carbon monoxide alarm to begin with and at the time we didn’t appreciate the severity of the situation.

“What struck us most is that not many people actually have a carbon monoxide detector or alarm in their homes, and those who do, like us, aren’t sure what to do when it does go off.

“I’m afraid to say we had to Google what to do next, we knew obviously to get out the house but we were unsure as to who we should call, would you know who to call?

“The Delabole fire brigade came straight out at four in the morning to assist us and both me and Matthew would like to say a big thank you to the local crew who give their time to man our local fire station. You only realise how much you appreciate what they do after an incident like this.”

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, poisonous gas produced by incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels, including gas, oil, wood and coal.

Carbon-based fuels are safe to use, it is only when the fuel does not burn properly that excess CO is produced, which is poisonous.

When CO enters the body, it prevents the blood from bringing oxygen to cells, tissues, and organs. A person cannot see, taste or smell CO, but it can kill quickly without warning.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service said gas boilers, stoves and heating appliances, solid fuel/wood burners and open fires pose a real danger if they are not properly maintained and or become defective.

Early symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can mimic many common ailments and may easily be confused with food poisoning, viral infections, flu or simple tiredness.

If it is suspected that someone is suffering from the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning and/or is unconscious within their home, dial 999 from outside the property and ask for the fire service and ambulance. The fire and rescue service will ventilate and monitor CO levels on their arrival.

Do not enter the property unless it has been fully ventilated by the fire and rescue service.

Anyone who suspects they are suffering from the effects of CO poisoning should evacuate their property and seek help and medical advice immediately.

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