Carbon monoxide (CO) in the confined space of a motorhome is very dangerous and can easily kill. Known as the Silent Killer; it is a tasteless, odourless, invisible and poisonous gas produced by sources such as petrol, diesel engines and gas fuelled appliances. In our motorhome, this might come from our heating, water-heating, refrigeration and generators. Breathing this gas can make you unwell and if you are exposed to too much, it will certainly kill you.
Look out for these symptoms
- A dull headache.
- Laboured breathing.
- Blurred vision.
Constant exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide might give you the symptoms listed above, and you might easily dismiss some of them as ‘flu’ like symptoms and ignore them.
A big and obvious clue might be there just waiting for you to make the connection. If you suffer these symptoms when away in the motorhome, but they ease up or disappear when you are not away in the van, then you should commission a suitably qualified professional to check all your motorhome appliances.
Those with onboard petrol generators should take extra care that exhaust pipes under the van are leak free. In America, on-board generators are common and so are deaths from leaky exhausts pipes! If you have an on-board gennie it’s good advice to always ensure a skylight is open when it’s running.
Portable generators should be positioned where the exhaust is carried away from the van and don’t underestimate the ability of even a slight breeze to push all the harmful gas into your (or your neighbours) motorhome or awning. Though if your generator is noisy and you have neighbours you might not live long enough for the CO to kill you 😉
One would hope that no one is silly enough to bring their barbie into an enclosed place like an awning. But still people die for doing just that!
Protect yourself with a good quality detector
- Test your detector at least once a week by pressing the test button.
- Replace batteries at least as often as recommended by the manufacturer
- Know the lifespan of the detector. Replace it according to the makers instructions; even if you think it works!
Don’t be a victim of this gas, it can make you and your pets very ill or even kill you! Go buy a detector today, if you already have one, how old is it? When was it tested last? Do you need to change the batteries?
Decent detectors cost around £20-£30 and its one of those items where you are probably better off not buying a cheap knockoff and sticking to well known brands such as Kiddie, FireAngel and Honeywell
There is more information about CO poisoning online on the NHS website.