Caravan Users Warned About Potential Risk Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

With the start of the school holidays, the Health Protection Agency is today warning people of the potential health risks of carbon monoxide poisoning from fossil fuel burning appliances – such as gas powered fridges, heaters or cookers - while on caravanning holidays.

The Agency is advising caravan owners to have their appliances serviced by an appropriately registered engineer before heading off on their summer break. People who hire or borrow caravans should ask to see a service certificate to check appliances are being properly maintained. The Agency also recommends that all caravan users buy an audible carbon monoxide alarm.


Professor Robert Maynard from the Agency said: “In small spaces such as caravans, levels of carbon monoxide produced by faulty, poorly maintained or poorly ventilated fossil fuel appliances can build up very quickly to levels which can kill. We want to remind people of the dangers as they prepare to go on holiday in caravans that contain appliances which may not have been properly serviced. At high levels, if you do not have an alarm, it is unlikely you will know you are being poisoned by this lethal gas.”

The Agency believes that some caravan users may be at risk from the potentially deadly gas - which is produced when fossil fuels burn without enough air - from poorly maintained caravan appliances such as Liquefied Petroleum Gas, or kerosene-powered fridges, heaters or cookers.

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas. Exposure to high levels causes more than 50 accidental deaths a year in England and Wales. Even at lower levels, it can harm health and may produce symptoms similar to flu or food poisoning - such as headaches, tiredness and difficulty thinking clearly, or feeling sick.

An audible carbon monoxide alarm will alert people to high levels of the gas. Press reports earlier this year revealed that a mother and son narrowly escaped acute carbon monoxide poisoning after a carbon monoxide detector inside their caravan showed high levels of the gas. However, alarms do not alert people to low levels of the carbon monoxide and they should not replace regular inspections by a registered engineer.