Last Christmas morning, the Hughes family from Co Mayo suffered the most terrible of tragedies. Padraig Hughes (20) died in his sleep from inhaling toxic carbon monoxide fumes from a leaking gas boiler. His twin sister, Emma, narrowly survived.
“IT would be hard for any parent to imagine a more hellish Christmas morning – going to wake your precious children and not being able to. Slowly realising they are in serious trouble. Being unable to make contact with the emergency services. And it dawning on you – too late – that a €60 alarm could have prevented the whole tragedy.”
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is highly dangerous. You can’t see it or smell it. In fact it is often called “the silent killer”. It is thought to be responsible for about 40 deaths in Ireland each year. CO leaks can happen in any home or enclosed space, at any time. It is one of the bitter ironies of our modern age that the practices and products we use to make our lives more comfortable, often pose a potential risk to our basic health and safety. We go to great lengths to insulate our homes in an effort to increase energy and heating efficiency but, while making our dwellings cosier, we are also making it difficult for fresh air to enter and for carbon monoxide to be vented properly. There is no law In Ireland for domestic dwellings in relation to carbon monoxide.
Symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to those of cold or flu. They include headache, feeling sick, tiredness, and dizziness. Because of the similarity of the symptoms to other conditions, carbon monoxide poisoning is often missed.
Carbon Monoxide alarms can be used to provide a warning in the event of a dangerous build-up of CO but they are no substitute for regular inspection and maintenance of appliances, vents, flues and chimneys.
The Hughes family have launched a personal campaign for legislation surrounding carbon monoxide alarms. They want regulations put in place that will make fixed carbon monoxide alarms compulsory in buildings and believe people should be made as aware of them as they are of smoke alarms.
You can protect your home from the dangers of this deadly gas by taking preventive measures and by learning to recognise the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Click here to find out more.