Carbon Monoxide Awareness

Stay safe in the Lake District

Protect yourself and your family by learning about carbon monoxide (CO)

You can’t see it, taste it or smell it but CO can kill quickly without warning. 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.

The basics

The Lake District and Cumbria is a haven for camping and boating, and it is great to get out into nature. But it’s important to know about Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning and how to prevent it.

According to the NHS, there are around 60 deaths from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in England and Wales every year, and about 200 people are left seriously ill, while 4,000 people are treated in hospital. Learn how to keep yourself and your family safe from Carbon Monoxide poisoning by following the guidance below.

Beware of BBQs

CO is produced when charcoal, gas or petrol burns incompletely. Barbecues can produce CO even when they are working well and even when the flames have gone out, smouldering coals can still kill. Although you may be tempted to put your barbecue in your tent to keep you warm, DON’T!

Top Safety Tips for Happy Camping

  • Never take a barbecue into a tent, awning, caravan or motorhome. Even a cooling barbecue gives off plenty of poisonous carbon monoxide (CO), which can kill.
  • Never use a fuel-burning appliance to heat your tent or awning. Gas and kerosene heaters – unless they are permanently fitted in a caravan or motorhome – should only be used outside. Stoves and barbecues are designed for cooking not space heating.
  • Never run a gas, petrol or diesel-powered generator inside a caravan, motorhome, tent or awning. Make sure fumes from a generator don’t blow into your unit or anyone else’s from outside either.
  • Don’t cook inside your tent or awning
  • Don’t use any other gas, charcoal, liquid or solid fuel appliances inside a tent or awning. Gas-powered fridges and lamps, for example, also need plenty of ventilation to prevent them producing poisonous carbon monoxide. Tents and awnings aren’t generally designed with this in mind.
  • Consider using a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm, provided it is suitable for the condition you intend to use it, check with the supplier/manufacturer, though it should never be used as an alternative to the precautions above.
  • Always have gas appliances in your caravan or motorhome serviced regularly.

For more information about preventing Carbon Monoxide poisoning when camping and caravanning visit Carbon monoxide (CO) can kill – The Camping and Caravanning Club

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Larger boats, such as houseboats, sometimes have generators that vent toward the rear of the boat. This venting poses a danger of CO poisoning to people on the rear swim deck or water platform. It’s important to make sure that any gasoline-powered engines on boats, including onboard generators are kept in good condition and checked regularly.

Top Safety Tips for Brilliant Boating

  • All the crew should know the symptoms of CO poisoning and how to react if it is suspected
  • Install fuel burning appliances properly, in-line with makers directions
  • Follow servicing guidelines; maintenance should be routine and competent – Don’t allow bodged repairs, adjustments and adaptations
  • Always use appliances as per the instructions and never use cookers for space heating
  • Don’t block ventilation – appliance fuels like gas, coal, wood, oil, paraffin, etc. need sufficient air to burn safely
  • Don’t bring charcoal BBQs on board, or have them near a cabin during or after use – only stone-cold charcoal is safe
  • Keep engine fumes out of the cabin space, never use a portable generator in or near a cabin
  • Learn about the danger signs, spot potential hazards before CO occurs
  • Deal with problems immediately, never use equipment you suspect has problems
  • Install at least one certified CO alarm (BS EN 50291-2), test it routinely and never remove the batteries

For more information about preventing Carbon Monoxide poisoning when boating visit Carbon Monoxide (CO) | Boat Safety Scheme | Go Boating – Stay Safe

Spotting the danger signs of CO poisoning

You cannot smell, taste or see carbon monoxide but it can kill quickly and without warning. Early stages of carbon monoxide poisoning can give symptoms similar to food poisoning or flu, though without a high temperature.

  • Symptoms to look out for include:
    • Headaches
    • dizziness
    • feeling sick
    • tiredness and confusion
    • stomach pains
    • shortness of breath
  • Higher concentrations can give more severe symptoms: 
    • Symptoms of intoxication
    • vertigo, as if the environment is spinning
    • loss of coordination
    • breathlessness and high heart beat rate
    • seizures or unconsciousness leading to death

For more information about Carbon Monoxide safety at home visit At a glance | Northern Gas Networks

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About this Project

The project is funded by Northern Gas who deliver gas to 2.7 million homes and businesses in the North East, Northern Cumbria and much of Yorkshire, and are committed to supporting the environment and local community.

Northern Gas are working hard to become a cleaner, greener business – reducing waste in their daily operations, and gearing up for a low carbon, sustainable future – targeting their daily operations to be net-zero by 2031. Before working with any business or organization we always follow our Working with Businesses Policy.

Given that we are seeing a significant increase in the number of first-time visitors to the Lake District National Park and visitors who are new to camping and cooking in confined spaces it is likely that they are not aware of the risks of CO, which could have devastating effects on individuals but also local communities and businesses.

This project will provide important and potentially life-saving information to visitors and residents of the Lake District and Cumbria, and we anticipate that the lessons learned in this pilot project in the Lake District and Cumbria will be transferrable to other destinations.

In addition to the campaign, the LDF will be supporting Northern Gas to raise awareness of the priority Service Register. The Priority Services Register is a free service provided by suppliers and network operators, which enables vulnerable customers to receive extra support such as free gas safety checks and priority services in case of an incident.

The Lake District Foundation is excited to deliver this campaign that will enable more people to enjoy the Lake District and experience the health benefits that accessing nature and wild spaces brings.

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