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As the Easter weekend gets underway, many people will be heading off to campsites to spend the holidays under canvas or in caravans and motorhomes.
According to the National Caravan Council, there are 550,000 touring caravans, 330,000 static caravans and 205,000 motorhomes in the UK, so it’s a very popular way to spend our leisure time.
While we’re all hoping for good weather, campers should be aware of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, which causes around 50 deaths each year in the UK, as well as a number of hospital admissions.
It’s known as the ‘silent killer’ – you can’t see it, taste it or smell it. CO is released from the burning of carbon-based fossil fuels including coal, gas, oil, petrol, paraffin, charcoal and wood. That’s why you should never leave lit or smouldering barbecues inside tents or caravans.
Gas and kerosene heaters – unless they’re permanently fitted in a caravan or motorhome – should only be used outside. Gas-powered fridges and lamps also need plenty of ventilation.
Never run a gas, petrol or diesel-powered generator inside a caravan, motorhome, tent or awning, and make sure generator fumes don’t blow into your unit or anyone else’s.
Use a CO alarm, provided it is suitable for its intended use, and always have gas appliances in your caravan or motorhome serviced regularly.
Symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches, nausea and vomiting, exhaustion, drowsiness, dizziness and lightheadedness, ‘flu like’ symptoms, feeling your heart beat oddly, chest pain and losing consciousness.
Anyone who suspects they’re suffering from CO poisoning while camping should immediately go outside into the fresh air and seek urgent medical attention.
Whether you’re going away or having a ‘staycation’ this Easter, for peace of mind keep a supply of medicines such as paracetamol, antihistamines, cough medicine and plasters in your medicine cupboard or bag.
You should also consider consulting a pharmacist for more common illnesses and complaints, rather than going straight to an Emergency Department or waiting for a GP appointment.
The GP out of hours’ service is for people who need urgent medical treatment, but cannot wait until their doctor's practice is open.
The service operates from 6pm on weekdays until your GP surgery opens the next morning, 24 hours on Saturday and Sunday, and 24 hours on public holidays. You can get further information at: Out of hours service
Wishing you all a safe, happy and healthy Easter.