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This weekend’s tragic news highlights yet again the potentially devastating dangers of what has become known as ‘the silent killer’ – carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. With the holiday season just starting, more and more cost-conscious holidaymakers are opting for a camping holiday, but campers need to be aware that fuel-powered camping equipment can be potentially dangerous to your health – and even fatal.

Being CO aware and taking simple measures could literally save your life.

How to Avoid or Reduce the Risks

• Camping usually involves a tent, camper or caravan. When combustibles are used within these enclosed quarters without proper ventilation people in close proximity are at high risk of carbon monoxide poisoning
• Lanterns, space heaters, portable grills, gas burning appliances, and other fuel-powered equipment should only be lit and burnt outside
• Ensure tents, campers, caravans and any other enclosed areas are adequately ventilated
• When using gas burning units such as the portable stove in your caravan, or gas lanterns in your tent, keep the door or windows open
• Always cook at least 2-3 metres away from your tent
• Never use or bring a barbecue into a tent. Carbon monoxide will still be released from the hot coals
• When camping at high altitudes, the effects of carbon monoxide are heightened and consequently, more care is required. Also, when alcohol or drugs are ingested the negative effects of CO inhalation are intensified
• Camping in cold weather is especially dangerous for carbon monoxide poisoning because there is a frequent need for heating units and a strong tendency to stay inside due to the weather. Choosing other alternatives like electrical or battery-operated models is highly recommended

Figures from the Department for Health suggest that 4,000 people a year are poisoned by carbon monoxide, with 200 being admitted to hospital1. Last year, 50 people died from the effects of CO poisoning – a dramatic increase from four deaths the previous year2 – and the cost to the NHS is estimated at £178 million a year3.

Badly-fitted appliances, which use gas or other household fuels such as coal and wood, along with faulty boilers, flues or poorly ventilated ovens are often to blame. Worryingly, CO can also enter a property from adjoining households.

But the workplace can also pose a hazard and the spate of camping incidents in recent years shows the potentially fatal risk of CO poisoning from taking barbecues into tents.

Nick Rutter, managing director of Sprue Safety Products, the UK’s leading manufacturer and supplier of CO alarms, said: “Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous, potentially fatal gas produced from fuel-powered camping equipment - including barbecues. With no colour, taste or smell, it is totally invisible to the human senses. Because the gas is so difficult to detect and the symptoms (such as headaches) so common to other complaints, many people can be poisoned without knowing it. The actual number of people affected is thought to be much higher.

“Carbon monoxide is potentially fatal, but exposure to low levels of the gas over just a few hours can be just as lethal as high levels over a short amount of time, causing lasting damage to your health,” added Nick.

“With such serious potential consequences, CO safety should be given the same attention as fire safety and we strongly support the call from the All Party Parliamentary Gas Safety Group for the co-operation of Government, industry, and the health sector to take simple measures which will help raise awareness, improve detection and develop better regulation which will ultimately save lives.

“We are also supporting the charity, CO Angels’ ’10 by 20’ campaign, in a bid to install CO alarms in 10 million homes across the UK by 2020.”

Warning Signs:

The early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to ‘flu’. They can include:

• nausea
• dizziness
• tiredness
• headaches
• stomach pains
• chest pains

If you experience these symptoms, but feel better when you are outside or away from the appliance, you could be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.

More severe symptoms are respiratory problems and brain damage leading potentially to death.

If you are concerned about the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning whilst on holiday in the UK or abroad, you can take a battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm with you.

When you buy a carbon monoxide alarm, make sure it meets current British and European safety standards. Look for alarms marked with the name of the European Standard 'BSEN 50291:2001' and with the 'CE' mark, which should be found on the packaging.

For more information on the CO alarms available from Sprue Safety Products, visit:
Sprue Safety Products supports the CO Angels’ ’10 by 20’ campaign, in a bid to install CO alarms in 10 million homes across the UK by 2020. For more information on how you can back the bid, please visit


Notes to Editors:

Sprue Safety Products specialises in designing, manufacturing and supplying products that save lives, with a comprehensive range of products that provide peace of mind and keep you safe.

Sprue Safety Products Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sprue Aegis plc. Sprue Aegis has recently won a prestigious Sunday Times Fastrack Award, which recognises the fastest growing companies in the UK.

About Sprue Aegis plc
Group overview

With its head office in Coventry, UK, Sprue is Europe’s leading home safety products supplier and manufactures one of the world’s smallest carbon monoxide sensors for use in carbon monoxide alarms. Sprue designs and sells smoke and carbon monoxide alarms including other safety related products throughout Europe under the FireAngel, First Alert, BRK and Dicon brands. Sprue enjoys a strong European market presence, a leading UK retail footprint, is the supplier of choice to the UK’s Fire and Rescue Services and continues to develop its market share in the UK’s trade sector. Sprue has an established network of independent distributors within Continental Europe providing access into these key growth markets through local partners.

Patented technology

Sprue has patented technology in Europe, the US and other selected territories and its range of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms is independently certified to the latest European standards. For further product information, please visit: or

Company ethos

We make products that save lives. It is a simple philosophy. Everything we do is focussed on providing market leading smoke and carbon monoxide alarms that achieve this objective.

We are serious about carbon monoxide and smoke detection and believe everyone should be properly protected with affordable and reliable home safety products from a company with brands you can trust.

We work with passion and seek to inspire those that work for us in the same way. We encourage our staff to “make a difference” to our business every day.

Date of issue: 8th May 2012
For further media information, or to arrange an interview, please contact Jane Duncan at Sprue Safety Products on: 02476 323232 or email:

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