A Cautionary Tale

Fortunately this did not happen on my Park…. equally fortunately everybody is alright. 

“Family in carbon monoxide horror” (From This Is Dorset)

A SHOCKED family and their 15-month-old baby narrowly escaped death when they were poisoned with a killer gas while on holiday.

Mother-of-two Jemma Traves, 33, says her family decided to go for a week-long vacation for the first time in years at Waterside Holiday Park, Weymouth.

But the family’s holiday turned into a nightmare when they woke up after their first night in the park’s static caravan suffering from mysterious headaches.

Mrs Traves then struggled to rouse her normally lively baby Samuel, who she discovered with a bluish tinge to his lips.

The careful mum had seen a TV programme about the deaths of siblings Christi Shepherd, seven, and her six-year-old brother Bobby, who died from carbon monoxide poisoning in a bungalow in Corfu after fumes from a gas boiler seeped into their rooms.

As a result she had taken a carbon monoxide tester with her and to her horror she discovered the orange dot on the credit card-sized device had turned black, indicating that the deadly gas was present.

The family packed up and went straight to Poole Hospital for tests where, after five hours, doctors confirmed there were traces of carbon monoxide in their blood.

“I’m quite a worrier anyway,” said Mrs Traves, from Aspen Gardens, in Poole.

“Most people probably wouldn’t have bothered taking one with them.

“It cost just under £5, but it may well have helped save our lives. As the hospital staff said, if we had stayed there any longer it could have been a lot worse.”

Mrs Traves said when the family first arrived at the site there was no hot water in the caravan where they were staying, so reception sent a workman to mend the boiler.

Water Holiday Group Ltd said in a statement: subject to a full investigation we appear to have had an incident involving carbon monoxide.’ Company director Philip Jacobs said: “When sited here the gas boiler and system were checked by a Corgi- registered fitter and a written certificate given.

“We have now run the gas boiler system for 30 minutes without carbon monoxide registering on a detector. We have been operating this well-known, five-star holiday park for 43 years without any such incident. We operate a health and safety system using fully qualified staff.

“We will speedily complete our investigation and ensure that anything that proves necessary is done.”

The family has lodged a complaint with Borough of Poole’s environmental health team. An officer from the borough council visited the park yesterday as part of its investigation into the complaint.

 What the newspaper doesn’t tell you…..

“they woke up after their first night in the park’s static caravan suffering from mysterious headaches”

The caravan concerned is not owned by the park, but is a privately owned caravan which is rented through the park’s agency. As such, it is the caravan’s owner that is responsible for the caravan’s safety. The Park’s own hire fleet caravans do have carbon monoxide detectors but this privately owned caravan did not.

“reception sent a workman to mend the boiler”

For the above, read “the boiler was not lit… reception sent a member of staff to light the boiler”

“she had taken a carbon monoxide tester with her and to her horror she discovered the orange dot on the credit card-sized device had turned black”

The carbon monoxide tester had been placed close to the caravan’s cooker. As open, unflued gas flames (ie cooker rings) do contain carbon monoxide, this could well have been the cause of the tester dot turning black.

Now my opinions…… 

As a water heater only runs the burner when hot water is being used, it is unlikely that a water heater created carbon monoxide during the night. Equally, very few people cook when everyone is asleep. The culprit could more likely be the gas fire in the caravan lounge…. if this fire was left on overnight (something that is not recommended) this could well have produced a quantity of carbon monoxide.

A good argument for central heating, and room sealed boilers, as fitted to many (mid market and top of the range) new caravans. It should be noted, however, that the caravan in question was a new 2007 model, not an “old wreck”, and had been tested and certified safe by a CORGI engineer this year. The caravan park in question is very well respected in the industry and has years of experience and a good health & safety system, but this is proof that even with the best care, a million to one chance can still happen, and it is very fortunate that everybody survived…. a spoilt holiday is bad enough, at least everyone lives to holiday again.

Apparently the investigators have been unable to repeat the incident, and it is theorised that abnormal winds may have interfered with the normal operation of flues.

It is to be borne in mind that the UK has far more stringent gas safety regulations than Greece.

So………

While we do not have open gas fires in our rental units, I’ve just ordered a pile of carbon monoxide detectors… they will be fitted to all rental units, and they are the type that gives an audible alarm in the event of detecting carbon monoxide. While a carbon monoxide incident is incredibly unlikely, the detectors will ensure that there is no possibility of a tragedy, and, probably equally importantly, a holidaymaker will sleep better, knowing that they have protection.

And anyone who is tempted to put Health & Safety to the bottom of the “to do list” should think again.

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    mrs j traves said,

    I HAVE JUST HAPPENED TO COME ACROSS YOUR ARTICLE DATED APRIL 6 2007,AND THOUGHT I’D CORRECT A COUPLE OF THINGS YOU WROTE:FIRSTLY THE TESTER WAS NOT PLACED BY THE COOKER-IT WAS NO WHERE NEAR IT!AND A FAULT HAS BEEN FOUND.I WISH PEOPLE WOULD GET THEIR INFORMATION CORRECT BEFORE WRITING THESE TYPES OF ARTICLES.


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