A camping death in Cumbria in August 2012 , caused by carbon monoxide (CO) fumes from a barbeque, was exacerbated by the airtight conditions inside a camping 'pod'.
All barbeques should carry warnings, telling people that they should only be used outdoors. Unfortunately this is often interpreted as a fire prevention message, whereas the real danger comes from carbon monoxide which is released during and even more so after cooking.
Recent tests carried out by the Cornwall Fire Service have found that emissions of this deadly gas actually increase as a barbeque cools. It seems that with the recent cool summers people have been taking them inside for extra warmth. This is what appears to have happened in the tragedy in Cumbria where a 45 year old man died and his wife was found semi-conscious by his side. She had no recollection of taking the barbeque into the pod.
The pod was so well insulated that there was nowhere for the fumes to escape. However, even in seemingly well ventilated tents there have been deaths due to barbeques being taken inside them. The message remains: Never take a barbeque inside.
Many people are unaware of the devastating effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon Monoxide has no colour, smell or taste and cannot be detected by the human senses. It is extremely dangerous, binding itself to the haemoglobin in red blood cells and preventing them from transporting oxygen around the body.
According to statistics released by the Office for National Statistics, throughout England and Wales, there are an average of over 60 deaths every year due to accidental exposure to carbon monoxide - up to 45% of which occur in the home.
Figures from the Department of Health and Social Care show that there are around 4000 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning treated in A&E Departments across England each year - even mild cases can exacerbate existing conditions such as respiratory illnesses, leading to fatalities.
According to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England, around 200 per year are hospitalised in England and Wales as a result of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.
A study of more than 27,000 properties by the Liverpool John Moores University, supported by the Merseyside and West Midlands Fire Services, found that less than 10% of homes have a single carbon monoxide alarm to protect occupants from this deadly gas.
Source: Liverpool John Moores University