When Ian Story, a self-employed joiner from Cummersdale, near Carlisle, dropped in to see has godfather, Richard Pape, on Christmas Eve, the resulting conversation probably saved his life and those of his young family.
Richard works as a fire officer with the Cumbria Partnership NHS Trust, based at the Carleton Clinic, Carlisle, and regularly gives talks on the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. He started telling Ian about the latest Coronation Street storyline about a carbon monoxide incident and it led to them discussing the importance of having a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm.
Richard then decided to go ahead and order a CO alarm for his godson which was delivered a few days later. About a week after that Ian came home from work and went to bed early feeling a little unwell. Later that evening as his partner Sara McManus was feeding his twin six month old daughters she noticed that the reading on the CO alarm was going up.
When it then started beeping she turned off all appliances in the house, shut down the wood burning stove and opened the downstairs windows. She reset the alarm and it started beeping again so the couple grabbed their girls and went across the road to Ian’s mother’s house.
A subsequent visit by a chimney sweep revealed that about one and a half inches of soot had built up all the way around the inside of the stove flue, which had prevented the gases from the fire escaping. Instead, it had been silently filling their home.
What to do if your carbon monoxide detector goes off:
- Open the doors and windows to ventilate the area.
- Turn off all fuel appliances where possible and stop using them
- Evacuate the property immediately leaving the doors and windows open (make sure everybody is accounted for)
- Call Gas Emergency Services: 0800 111 999
If you believe that the source of carbon monoxide is not a gas appliance, contact either:
Oftec (oil) – 0845 658 5080 or
HETAS (solid fuel) – 0845 634 5626*
- Get medical help immediately for anyone suffering the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning (headache, nausea), and advise that carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected.
- Do not re-enter the property until it has been declared safe
- If a faulty gas appliance has been identified call Gas Safe Register – 0800 408 5500 – who will give you names of registered engineers in your area. Or go to its website: www.gassaferegister.co.uk
*Many of the Fire Services in the UK have carbon monoxide testing equipment and can be called in emergencies