Fire service sees worrying increase in carbon monoxide incidents and fire risks due to power cuts

By Alan Quick   |   Editorial Manager/Photojournalist   |
Monday 21st February 2022 4:04 pm
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SINCE Storm Eunice hit, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has seen an increase in incidents and dangerous near-misses in areas hit by power cuts.

There are currently thousands of homes without power in Devon and Somerset.

On Saturday, February 19, the fire service was called to a carbon monoxide incident caused by a resident, desperate for warmth and hot food, using a gas barbecue indoors.

Luckily a carbon monoxide alarm alerted the residents to dangerous levels of the killer gas, and they were able to escape.

Had the alarm not sounded, it could have been a very different outcome – the occupiers may have gone to bed and woken up feeling very unwell, or may not have woken up at all.

Just a few doors away, there was another near-miss with a resident asleep upstairs and a gas fire with many candles left unattended downstairs.

Wayne Rawlins, Area Manager for prevention, said: “We empathise with everyone who is still without power and appreciate it is a very difficult situation, but we want everyone to stay safe from the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.

“If you need to light your home when you’re without power, if you can, please choose torches or battery-powered lights rather than candles. If you must use candles, make sure they are in a heat-proof candle holder, and keep them well away from anything that could catch fire including furniture, curtains, books and shelves. Please never leave candles unattended and extinguish them before leaving the room or going to sleep.

“Barbecues should never be used indoors. They are not designed for this and should only be used in well-ventilated outdoor areas.

“If you’re using a portable gas heater, such as those fired by gas or oil, keep it a good distance (at least one metre) from people or furniture.

“If you, or someone you know, is without power, please share this advice with them to help them stay safe until their power is restored.”

What to do if your carbon monoxide alarm is sounding

If a carbon monoxide alarm is beeping, immediately get out of the building and call the relevant helpline for the fuel type:

• Gas – 0800 111 999

• Coal – 08456 014 406

• Oil – 08456 585 080

If you start to feel unwell, this could be carbon monoxide poisoning – call 999 immediately.

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