Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is calling for residents to review the heating safety in their homes after an elderly woman had a lucky escape.
“The CO readings next to the chimney breast, and our examination of it which found it was in desperate need of maintenance, suggest it was responsible for generating the high levels of this deadly gas. This highlights just how important it is to have your chimney regularly swept."
Crews from Newcastle-under-Lyme were called to a home in Honeywall Lane, Madeley, at around 2.15pm on Sunday April 8 after a neighbour raised the alarm.
The neighbour heard the burglar alarm sounding and went to see if the woman, aged 95, was okay. When he entered the house he found the woman sitting in the living room surrounded by thick smoke, he helped her from the property before he and his wife went back in to open all the windows to ventilate the property.
The occupant and her neighbours were taken to Royal Stoke Hospital by ambulance with suspected carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. It’s believed both of the neighbours were released after being checked over. It is not believed the elderly woman’s condition was life threatening.
Upon investigation crews found a coal fire in the fireplace which was alight, they extinguished this and used carbon monoxide monitoring equipment to check levels within the home. The reading showed over 200 parts per million near the top of the chimney, the maximum (and safe) limit is 35 parts per million over an eight hour period.
Jason Richards, Watch Manager, said: “This was an extremely serious incident which could have so easily resulted in the death of a woman if it wasn’t for the quick thinking actions of her neighbour.
“The CO readings next to the chimney breast, and our examination of it which found it was in desperate need of maintenance, suggest it was responsible for generating the high levels of this deadly gas. This highlights just how important it is to have your chimney regularly swept.
“While solid fuel fires and heaters greatly increase your risk of suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning any home with gas connected can be affected so it’s vital to ensure you are protected by having working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms fitted in your property. Sadly, there were none installed in this home.
“The simple fact is that having working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home will alert you to signs of fire or deadly gases early enough to save your life.
“If you suspect that there are increased levels of CO in your home, our advice is to Get Out Stay Out and call 999.
“Those without alarms may not know there is a cause for concern until it is too late - carbon monoxide is an odourless, invisible and silent killer.”
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.
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