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Alex joins call for festival goers to stay safe this summer

Alex Cunningham, MP for Stockton North, is supporting the All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group’s call for better carbon monoxide (CO) safety awareness at festivals this summer.

Many festival goers are unaware of the particular risks they face when camping, and every year there are worrying reports of revellers taking unnecessary risks with their lives.

Even extinguished barbeques give off large amounts of highly poisonous CO gas – in an enclosed space, like a tent, CO exposure can cause serious illness or even death in a matter of minutes. However, 49% of festival goers said they would bring a barbeque into their tent with them, unwittingly putting themselves in grave danger.

The CO Safety at Festivals campaign launch event, attended by Alex Cunningham along with representatives from festivals, the gas industry and the medical profession, called on people to keep themselves and their friends safe by learning and looking out for the symptoms and keeping their barbeques outside.

Symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, tiredness and confusion, stomach pain, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, and collapse. These pose particular difficulties at festivals as they are easily mistaken for a hangover, and so victims may not seek medical treatment. Combined with the fact that you cannot see, taste, hear or smell carbon monoxide, it is vital that festival goers only use barbeques or gas appliances outside, and leave their barbeque outside the tent even when it’s cool to touch. If you suspect you have been poisoned by CO, move into fresh air immediately and seek medical treatment, stating that you believe you have been exposed to CO.

Key facts about CO risks at festivals

  • 49% of festival goers said they would bring a barbeque into their tent.
  • 61% of the same festival goers thought it safe to do the same with a gas cooker and 52% of them would use a cooking appliance to heat the tent.
  • When charcoal has burned into ashes (after approximately 3 – 5 hours), temperatures just under the ash can still reach 350 – 400 degrees Celsius and produce huge amounts of CO.
  • Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless and poisonous gas produced when fuel (such as oil, gas, coal and wood) doesn’t burn completely.
  • There are over 30 deaths every year in the UK from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning (ONS statistics), over 200 carbon monoxide related hospital admissions and approximately 4,000 attendances in emergency departments.