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Carbon monoxide poisoning dangers alert for barbecues – safety tips by James the Sweep

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a very real danger if there is poor ventilation during the combustion of fuel for fire.
That is why chimneys need regular professional maintenance to ensure the air flow is not obstructed. It’s also why – as we head into sunny months – you need to take care using barbecues.

It takes less than two per cent of CO in the air to kill someone within a three minute timeframe. We can’t smell or sense CO – making it even more dangerous. The gas enters the human body and blocks oxygen from reaching human organs, which has a devastating effect.

The Carbon Monoxide and Gas Safety Society has reported (April 3) that a couple suffered CO poisoning after they bought a BBQ hut from a plant nursery. Both of them felt ill and took readings with a CO alarm, which proved that the deadly gas was to blame.

There are three simple points to remember to lessen the risk of CO poisoning at this time of year:-

[1] Make sure that your chimney and appliance (e.g. woodburner) are regularly checked all-year-round and maintained by a professional such as James the Sweep (07587 134589). If the flue is blocked, there is no way for harmful gas to escape. That means carbon monoxide, which is impossible to detect by human smell, will be present in the room accommodating the fireplace. This poses a death threat to anyone in that room and elsewhere in the building.

[2] Do not light barbecues in enclosed spaces and NEVER indoors. Barbecues should only be lit safely in well-ventilated areas, which are also not near any flammable substances and away from vulnerable people such as children and the elderly. Be safe!

[3] Carbon monoxide alarms are reliable although they must be tested regularly (e.g. ‘test it Tuesdays’]. Never depend entirely on CO alarms but they are a useful weapon in detecting any problems. Any batteries used must be in good order though. Ask your local sweep for advice on where to place the alarm.

If you take sensible steps to keep safe, you can enjoy barbecues and appliances without fear of carbon monoxide poisoning. But please do take this seriously. Any questions? Contact James the Sweep, Master Chimney Sweep for Tunbridge Wells, NOW on 07587 134589.