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Don't let a carbon monoxide tragedy wreck "your loved one's" Christmas !!!

Published: 3rd December 2013 17:30

 Lynn Griffiths

Many families will sit down after their Christmas dinner and fall asleep by the fireside. But have they eaten or drunk too much, or are they suffering the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning? That's the question posed by Lynn Griffiths, founder and president of the charity Carbon Monoxide Awareness, whose own family suffered the debilitating effects of carbon monoxide poisoning in their home for more than a decade, without even knowing it was carbon monoxide that was the cause of the problem.

Lynn Griffiths said: " The charity has noticed a sharp increase in the amount of carbon monoxide incidents it's seeing this year. I want everyone to think about the health and safety of their loved ones family, friends and the old person who lives next door or down the street, as we approach the season of good will this year." Carbon monoxide poisoning can have a devastating effect and the more people are aware of the signs and symptoms, especially at the initial stages, the more chance we have of preventing avoidable deaths and injuries.

Those poisoned by just low levels of carbon monoxide can go on to develop long term chronic health problems. It is known that long-term exposure is associated with neurological effects - such as having difficulties in concentrating, a change in behaviour or personality. "As I know only too well from the experience of my own family, people can have their health devastated by low levels of carbon monoxide without knowing what's causing their debilitating illness for many years," Lynn said.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is believed to cause around 50 deaths each year.  However as carbon monoxide isn't tested for routinely at post mortem I believe this figure could be much higher. There are numerous near misses, many of which still go unreported every year. At lower levels, carbon monoxide causes symptoms that are similar to flu, food poisoning or a virus so include headaches, difficulty in thinking, tiredness and nausea. Carbon monoxide symptoms are clearly being over looked without anyone even thinking or questioning carbon monoxide as a possibility for a loved one's  or friends illness or constant visits to the doctor's surgery or hospital.

When there are faulty appliances or blocked or partially blocked flues, carbon monoxide will quickly build up in confined spaces to levels that can kill in just three minutes. We've seen too many fatalities over the years and almost everyone is a tragedy that could have been avoided by people being more aware of the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that is difficult to detect because it is colourless and has no taste or smell. It is produced by faulty or poorly maintained or ventilated hydrocarbon fuel e.g. coal, charcoal, wood, oil, petrol, diesel, natural gas and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) burning appliances and by blocked or partially blocked flues.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) remains the biggest cause of accidental death by poisoning in the UK. People can help protect themselves by making sure they and their families have all their fuel burning appliances serviced every year. Their chimney gets swept once or twice a year and by installing a carbon monoxide alarm in the "correct place" in their home, caravan or boat. If someone you know hasn't got an audible carbon monoxide alarm, please buy them one for a Christmas present. "It could end up being the best present you have ever given to a family member or friend because it may just save their life over Christmas or New Year said Lynn."

Audible carbon monoxide alarms can be bought from any hardware store or supermarket. We all owe it to our families, friends, relatives and neighbours to ensure that they are all protected from this silent killer.

Carbon Monoxide Awareness Charity Charity No. 1125755

Website: http://www.co-awareness.org/ and http://www.covictim.org/ 

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