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Dangers of Carbon Monoxide on Holiday
Posted by David Cant on May 5, 2011

Heading for the Great Outdoors This Summer? Check that Camping Gas Stove

So, you’ve crammed everything you need into the back of the Volvo (including the kids) and now you are about to hit the motorway to travel to a beautiful location in the heart of the Great British countryside. Forgotten anything?

Well, the vast majority of people seem unaware of the potential risk of Carbon monoxide poisoning in the rejuvenating “great outdoors”. CO is basically caused by poorly maintained appliances such as gas stoves, or kerosene-powered fridges, camping heaters, lanterns or cookers…which are appliances that are regularly used on these charming types of “back to basics” summer getaways.

The danger of CO is actually heightened in this situations due to the small spaces (and sometimes poor ventilation) in tents and caravans, therefore the levels of toxic carbon monoxide are able to build up remarkably quickly to a death-causing level. This invisible, odourless gas can only be identified by a guardian with basic carbon monoxide knowledge and who has carried out simple precautions before setting off on their family’s great outdoor adventure.

The Health Protection Agency offers the following advice;

  • The appliances serviced by an appropriately registered engineer before going on holiday.
  • People who hire or borrow caravans should ask to see a service certificate to check appliances are being properly maintained.
  • Caravan users buy an audible carbon monoxide alarm.

What can you do to prevent such a tragedy?

  • Yellow or orange flames instead of a blue flame. The appliance might also have yellow/brown staining on it.
  • Purchase a portable carbon monoxide alarm. They are cheap, small, easy to pack and ideal for tent holidays!
  • Watch out for-flu like symptoms. This is easier to spot in the summer – as flu is traditionally more of a winter season problem.

These tips will ensure that the smells from the great outdoors is the only thing entering your nostrils. Therefore don’t forget to pack your CO alarm!


Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME's favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick.

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