Carbon Monoxide: a danger to thousands of festival fans

Thousands of festival goers are putting their lives at risk this summer, according to a new study by ‘Carbon Monoxide Be Alarmed!’.

Research conducted for the campaign reveals that a staggering 82 per cent of music festival fans were unaware of the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Anyone going to festivals this summer should take a portable audible CO alarm with them, making sure to use fuel burning appliances safely and only in the open air, said Lawrence Slade from the campaign.

The survey asked people about the dangers facing festival goers. Only one in five identified CO as a risk, lagging far behind heatstroke which over 57 per cent of people identified as a potential hazard. Other risks included:

  • Overdose (36.6%)
  • Crowd surfing injuries (35%)
  • Exposure (30%)
  • Deafness (29.2%)
  • Memory loss (9.9%)

CO causes dizziness, nausea, breathlessness and a loss of consciousness. Symptoms can often be mistaken for a cold or the after-effects of a night’s partying. It can cause permanent brain damage and in some cases can be fatal. There are many activities that party-goers enjoy at festivals, which bring with them the dangers of CO poisoning. Classic festival items, which all produce CO – a deadly gas that cannot be seen, smelt or tasted include: BBQs; bonfires; shisha pipes; portable gas cookers and gas heaters.

When these items are used incorrectly in a tent, a caravan or in an enclosed space it can lead to a build-up of the gas, which could potentially be fatal for those around.

Lawrence Slade, spokesman for CO Be Alarmed campaign, said:
“Let’s make this a summer of fun for music festival fans to remember – not a life limiting disaster or tragedy. Every year people make themselves ill – and some, tragically die from the effects of accidental CO poisoning – so it is shocking just how little people think about the dangers. It’s very worrying that people will pack a mac and wellies – when the worst they’ll get is wet – but don’t stop to consider putting an audible CO alarm in their bag when it could save their life or cut the danger of serious ill-health. Alarms are a small cost to save lives so pack, test and party for a summer safe from CO.”

Melanie Hargraves, a frequent festival goer, said:
“I’m aware of the dangers of Carbon Monoxide at home but it has never crossed my mind that I might be at risk of CO poisoning at music festivals. I will definitely spread the word and will always remember to leave my BBQ outside my tent, even if it gets cold at night.”

Festival checklist:

  • Bring an audible CO alarm – You can get them from DIY shops, supermarkets, many high street shops and online; they cost around £15
  • Don’t bring your barbeque inside an enclosed space, lit or extinguished.
  • Always keep any area well ventilated.
  • Check any appliances, cookers or heaters you bring have been serviced

Enjoy music festivals, know the dangers and be prepared this summer.

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