Motorhome guides

Motorhome carbon monoxide poisoning: How to stay safe

In England and Wales, there are about 25 accidental carbon monoxide poisoning fatalities every year and motorhome users are an ‘at-risk’ group because they use appliances that create carbon monoxide in an enclosed space. Here’s everything you need to know about motorhome carbon monoxide poisoning and how to stay safe.

Often referred to as ‘the silent killer’, you cannot see, smell or taste carbon monoxide.

It is a naturally occurring gas when fossil fuels such as coal, wood, gas and charcoal are burnt.

It’s why, if you’re burning any of these fossil fuels in and around your motorhome, it is absolutely vital that you have adequate ventilation in place.

How to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning in a motorhome

Service motorhome gas appliances regularly:

Keep your motorhome well ventilated: The areas around gas appliances must be well ventilated to allow carbon monoxide to escape your motorhome efficiently.

Do not light or bring barbeques inside your motorhome or awning: Even a cooling barbecue will give off poisonous carbon monoxide.

Never use a fuel-burning appliance to heat your motorhome: Portable gas and kerosene heaters, should only be used outside. Do not be tempted to use a stove or barbecue as a heat source.

Never run a gas, petrol or diesel-powered generator inside a motorhome: This includes in your awning. Make sure fumes from a generator do not blow into your motorhome – or anyone else’s.

Buy a carbon-monoxide detector and regularly test it: Available from as little as £15, a motorhome carbon monoxide alarm is an essential safety device. Carbon-monoxide detectors should usually be installed somewhere close to your gas appliances inside your motorhome – check the instructions. However, a carbon-monoxide alarm does not give you licence to flout any of the above carbon-monoxide motorhome guidelines.

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

The early stages of carbon monoxide poisoning might present with symptoms resembling food poisoning or the flu, just without a high temperature.

The NHS states that poisoning by carbon monoxide can cause:

  • Tension-type headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea (feeling and being sick)
  • Tiredness and Confusion
  • Stomach pains
  • Breathlessness
  • The symptoms of exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide can be similar to those of food poisoning and flu.

Depending on the level of exposure to carbon monoxide poisoning, it is possible to become ill quickly.

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