The Silent Killer - is it worth risking your life?

Submitted: Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 11:25
ThreadID: 132311 Views:3088 Replies:4 FollowUps:6
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As we head into cold days and nights and think about the comfort of heating, this week is Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week. Time to check that appliances you are using at home are well maintained and operating safely. For those travelling, don’t be tempted to use any unflued heating in your caravan or camper, nor ideas bandied around like an upturned flowerpot over a gas burner.
Some common products that can emit carbon monoxide when you use them are:
Barbeques that use wood, charcoal or gas
Fireplaces that use wood, charcoal or gas
Portable cookers that use gas or kerosene
Portable and/or outdoor heaters that use gas or kerosene
Flued gas heaters (under certain conditions)
Electrical generators that are diesel or petrol powered
Electrical equipment that is diesel or petrol powered (such as pumps, chainsaws, blowers and welders).
From Product Safety
At higher levels, carbon monoxide can kill within minutes. Even if you get fresh air in time to save your life, carbon monoxide can cause strokes, heart attacks, memory loss and personality changes. This brain damage is permanent.
Carbon monoxide binds to haemoglobin in our blood in place of the needed oxygen, and does so in preference to the oxygen in the air. This causes blood vessels of the body to leak, especially in the brain causing the brain to swell, leading to unconsciousness and neurological damage.
Source Carbon Monoxide Kills
Just a few of many examples where unexpected deaths have occurred:
• Last year a man was found dead from using an outdoor gas heater inside a house in Victoria
• A Sydney man was found dead with head beads by his bed last year
• In 2012 three men died in Tasmania while using a gas fridge in a caravan
• A New Zealand mother and her three children died inside their house from fumes from a car idling in the adjoining garage.
• Barbecue beads were placed in the ‘porch’ of a tent for warmth, and a fourteen year old girl, being nearest to them, died.
• In 2011 a man died during cyclone Yasi while using a generator inside his house.
• In 2010, Chase and Tyler Robinson died from carbon monoxide poisoning from an inadequately serviced gas heater in their rental property. They were only eight and six years old.
The Chase and Tyler Foundation raises awareness of carbon monoxide poisoning in Australia.
Thousands of people die every year throughout the world due to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, most directly resulting from using outdoor heating appliances indoors.
For camping off mains power in really cold weather, either a diesel heater (Webasto, Dometic or Eberspacher or cheaper copies), or installed gas heater (Truma) are the best options for heating your caravan.
You can get 12 volt electric blankets or use a 240 volt one off your inverter to warm the bed, or pull on Explorer or other thick woollen socks, and use a zero rated sleeping bag to keep the warmth you generate close around you.
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Reply By: TomH - Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 11:47

Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 11:47
Dont forget those that use the gas stove in the van for heating as well, even with the range hood going its still dangerous
Hope the Sydney man was using heat beads LOL or a lot of old hippies are due to die.

Yet when I was a kid Valor kero heaters were all the rage in our bedrooms with the windows and doors shut as well. Have survived so far despite that.
AnswerID: 599506

Follow Up By: Motherhen - Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 12:16

Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 12:16
Hi Tom. As a little kid I was just given extra blankets and still froze on cold nights in my sleepout which was a semi detached addition to the house. I should have put newspaper under the mattress as with a layer of blankets on my the cold was coming up. The extra blankets did pay off though, because when my sister and I were fighting Dad would get out a leather strap. We'd dive into bed, and I knew it hurt her more than me because of the extra blankets LOL. She had a warm inside bedroom.

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Follow Up By: LAZYLUX16 - Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 19:43

Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 19:43
Tom H I am still alive my dad was heavy smoker and w3 always had kero heaters.Then I moved in with mother inlaw same deal there but longer Winter in Mt Gambier .Then I lived in Himalayas of Nepal cooking was done in room on the floor with wood .Some people in Nepal died from particular species of wood if it was used ...cheers hope to fill my eyes with smoke and warm my toes and have cold back when I go camping soon yee ha
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Reply By: Ron N - Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 12:20

Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 12:20
It's not just Carbon Monoxide you have to be aware of. You can also suffer from oxygen deprivation if you have a small area (such as the inside of a caravan or a tent) shut up, with no or very little ventilation.

You consume oxygen from the air and produce Carbon Dioxide when you breathe out - so just the act of breathing is consuming oxygen in the air and the air needs to be replaced with fresh air, or you end up suffering from oxygen deprivation.
Getting really sleepy when you're in a closed room with a "approved" heater is a classic situation of oxygen deprivation.

Many unflued gas heaters are approved for indoor use - but the approvals really should come with specific warnings.
"Indoor" in relation to a normal house with inbuilt ventilation in the design, is a whole lot different to a camper trailer, a caravan or a tent, all with very little inbuilt ventilation.

This bloke below has a pretty good website explaining the dangers and showing the undesirable types of portable heaters for indoor use in camper trailers (as well as caravans and tents, of course).

Heater dangers

Cheers, Ron.



AnswerID: 599509

Follow Up By: Motherhen - Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 12:40

Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 12:40
Hi Ron, and thanks for your link. Even the Little Buddy Butane heater is shown there as not suitable for indoor use, while it is sold through camping stores for this purpose and advertises low oxygen cut off. However carbon monoxide mixes with the air, and the carbon monoxide binds to haemoglobin in our blood in place of the needed oxygen, and does so in preference to the oxygen in the air. The low oxygen cut out may work for carbon dioxide build up, but is not the answer for carbon monoxide.

But the bottom line is it is illegal to use these heaters in small areas such as caravans, bathrooms and bedrooms. All for good reason. Even with a CO warning device, it may not alert you in time. Children are more at risk.

At least carbon dioxide sinks rather than mixes, and this is another good reason never to block the door vents in a caravan. Those whose work environment involves working in pits, wells or silos are now trained in the dangers of carbon dioxide poisoning as it a a real danger to our lives as well.
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Follow Up By: Life Member - Dunworkin (WA) - Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 16:31

Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 16:31
If we don't have mains power we don't use heating in our van at all, snuggle up under the doona is the best place...ha ha. Thanks for the information Motherhen, very useful and informative.


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Follow Up By: Member - Ian T6 - Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 21:26

Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 21:26
I have a carbon monoxide monitor. It was not horribly expensive. I believe the are combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 21:31

Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 21:31
While a carbon monoxide alarm is a smart move both at home if you have any sort of fuel heating, and in your caravan or camper, it is not to be used as an excuse for running an unflued heater.

Exceeding the concentration in air of 9 parts per million for more than eight hours will have adverse health affects. Average occupational exposures above 10 parts per million (sustained through the work day) are unacceptable if your goal is normal function and good health long term. Respiratory capacity decreases and the risk of heart attack increases at levels well below 50 parts per million. Carbon monoxide detectors, which are designed to protect against high concentration of carbon monoxide are required to sound an alarm when concentrations are greater than 100 parts per million. These from Nutramed
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Reply By: GREG T11 - Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 22:25

Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 22:25
When I read the heading that appears on the forum search page I thought labor or greens had finally found out about the forum. Then I opened it and found that it was positive no nonsense laymans advice posted for others well being with no strings attached.


AnswerID: 599536

Reply By: Motherhen - Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 08:26

Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 08:26
It has been drawn to my attention that a link is not working. Here it is again.

Carbon monoxide binds to haemoglobin in our blood in place of the needed oxygen, and does so in preference to the oxygen in the air. This causes blood vessels of the body to leak, especially in the brain causing the brain to swell, leading to unconsciousness and neurological damage.
Source Carbon Monoxide Kills.
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