1 June 2012
Ahead of the summer holiday season, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) is today reminding campers not to use, light or leave smouldering barbecues inside their tents, caravans or other enclosed spaces because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
At high levels, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can cause sudden collapse, loss of consciousness and death. Other symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches, drowsiness, dizziness, chest pains, nausea and vomiting.
It is known that fossil fuels, or wood, that burn without enough oxygen create CO. In the wake of reports of recent deaths on campsites, which are suspected to have been caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, the HPA is concerned that campers may not realise that there is a risk of CO poisoning from lit or smouldering barbecues, and that they should never be taken inside tents, awnings or other enclosed spaces.
Professor Virginia Murray, from the HPA’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, said: “In small enclosed spaces such as tents and caravans, levels of carbon monoxide produced by barbecues can build up very quickly to levels which can kill. We want to remind people of the dangers as they prepare to go on camping and caravanning holidays. Carbon monoxide is colourless, odourless and tasteless so even at high levels, it is unlikely you will know you are being poisoned by this lethal gas.
“Disposable barbecues should never be used or left inside tents or awnings once they have been lit or after they have been used. When you have finished with the barbecue, it should be disposed of carefully, ensuring the ashes are completed extinguished to prevent the risk of fire.”
Anyone who suspects they are suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning while inside a tent or other enclosed area should go outside and seek medical help from a qualified healthcare professional or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.
Contact: HPA Press Office Tel 01235-822876 or 01235-822745
Further information about carbon monoxide poisoning is available on the HPA website at:
Last reviewed: 1 June 2012