Warning to beach hut users after Dorset carbon monoxide poisoning

Beach hut users are being urged to install carbon monoxide detectors if they’re using gas appliances, after an elderly couple and their dog had to be rescued by fire crews from their beach hut at Portland Bill in Dorset.

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue says the couple, who were barely conscious when crews arrived, are lucky to be alive after a severe carbon monoxide leak in their beach hut.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced by the incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels, including gas, oil, wood and coal.

Most cases of carbon monoxide poisoning are caused by gas appliances and flues that haven’t been properly installed or maintained, or are poorly ventilated.

Overcome by fumes

Portland Fire Station reported that both its appliances were called to the scene at 5.15 am on Wednesday 3rd November 2021 after the couple, who had become overcome by fumes, were just able to raise the alarm.

The crews had to break into the hut to rescue the people and a dog, who were by this time, barely conscious.

They then administered oxygen therapy until the ambulance crews arrived.

Carbon monoxide detector

CO detectors save lives

Portland Fire Station manager Russ True said:

“The affected people have been very lucky. Carbon monoxide is colourless, odourless and tasteless, but it is also extremely dangerous.

“Without a CO detector, you have no way of knowing that you’re being poisoned until the damage is already being done.

“CO detectors can be bought in most supermarkets and DIY stores. They’re not expensive and they save lives.

“These people had experienced some advanced symptoms but were very fortunate that they were still able to raise the alarm before they came to any serious harm.”

Signs to look out for

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue says these are the signs to look out for that could indicate a gas appliance may not be working properly and that carbon monoxide is being produced:

  • Yellow or orange rather than blue flames (except in fuel effect fires or flueless appliances)
  • Soot or yellow/brown staining around or on appliances
  • Pilot lights that frequently blow out
  • Increased condensation inside windows

Further information

More advice on carbon monoxide is on the Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue website

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