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Residents urged to fit carbon monoxide alarms after incident in Cannock

April 5 2018

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service are reminding residents of the importance of having working carbon monoxide alarms after an incident in Cannock.

“While real fuel fires and heaters greatly increase your risk of suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning any home can be affected so it’s vital to ensure you are protected by having working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms fitted in your property."

Paul Shaw, Fire Investigation Officer

Crews from Cannock were called to a home in Old Penkridge Road just after 10.30am on Tuesday April 3 after colleagues from Staffordshire Police raised the alarm.

Police were called after a family member became concerned when they were unable to raise the elderly residents. Police officers forced entry, rescued the elderly couple and opened windows to ventilate the property.

Firefighters gave the man, aged 75, oxygen therapy at the scene before he was taken by ambulance to New Cross Hospital where he remains in a critical condition. Sadly, the woman, aged 73, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Formal identification has taken place and the woman has been named as Gwendal Stanley. Colleagues from Staffordshire Police are not treating the woman’s death as suspicious and a report has been prepared for HM Coroner, who will be working to establish the cause of her death.

Crews used carbon monoxide monitoring equipment to check levels within the home, which showed a reading of 100 parts per million, the maximum (and safe) limit is 35 parts per million over an eight hour period. A gas engineer also attended.

Fire Investigation Officer Paul Shaw attended the incident and found a self-feeding anthracite (coal) heater downstairs. It is believed this heater was responsible for the dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide within the home.

Paul said: “We would like to offer our deepest sympathy to this woman’s family following this truly tragic incident; our thoughts remain with them during this difficult time.

“While real fuel fires and heaters greatly increase your risk of suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning any home can be affected so it’s vital to ensure you are protected by having working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms fitted in your property.

“We cannot stress enough just how important it is to have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home so they can alert you to signs of fire or deadly gases as early as possible.

“Those without these alarms may not know there is a cause for concern until it is too late - carbon monoxide is odourless, invisible and silent killer.

“The firefighters at this incident took a carbon monoxide reading after the home had already been ventilated by police so it highly likely that the levels were well over 100.”

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, poisonous gas produced by incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels, including gas, oil, wood and coal. 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. When CO enters the body, it prevents the blood from bringing oxygen to cells, tissues, and organs.

For more information about CO please visit our website or call the Community Advice Team on 0800 0241 999.