Andy and Kirsty April 2016
“Andy and I came home from holiday recently and while we were away we turned the AGA right down to the pilot light, as soon as we got home I turned the AGA up half way (as I’d been told to by an engineer) to warm everything up before I turned it all the way up. I then went upstairs with the bags and came back down about ten minutes later and walked into the kitchen, as soon as I did I suddenly felt very very ill indeed, my heart started racing, I started shaking and I immediately felt very sick and very faint and could feel myself losing consciousness and blacking out. The Carbon Monoxide alarm in the kitchen was going mad and flashing as fast as I’d seen it. I immediately called Andy down from upstairs (he was about to have a shower and wouldn’t have been back downstairs for a good half an hour or so) and I told him we need to get out of the house right now and switch the gas off at the mains.
I took the phone outside with us and called the emergency gas line and there we stood in the rain thanking our lucky stars that we knew enough about Carbon Monoxide poisoning to have acted quickly, which is entirely down to you and the Katie Haines Memorial Trust.
Andy didn’t feel any of the effects as he was upstairs at the time and by the time the gas engineer came out, as the doors had all been left open, then the levels had gone down, though I still felt ill when I entered the kitchen.
It turns out that in adverse weather conditions while we’d been away, the flue to the AGA had become blocked and the kitchen had very quickly filled with a combination of Carbon Dioxide and Carbon Monoxide. An AGA engineer came out a day or two afterwards and showed me the different stages and levels of Carbon Dioxide and Carbon Monoxide that would have been in the kitchen at the time when I walked in and it was the second level down which showed poisoning symptoms of unconsciousness within 2 – 5 minutes and death within 20 minutes. He suspected that if the dogs had been here, they would not have survived and that if I hadn’t immediately realised what was happening, if I’d stayed in the kitchen and fallen unconscious until Andy came downstairs, then it could have been a very different and more tragic outcome altogether.
Another thing that was interesting is that I’d been turning the AGA to what I thought was half way up but it turns out that I’d been turning it too far and in fact had inadvertently switched it to full power and full gas without realising it, which is never recommended as a cold flue takes time to warm up and can’t cope with a sudden influx causing gases to escape, which is something I’ll be warning anyone with an AGA about.
The engineer said we had Carbon Monoxide alarms in all the right places, which is thanks to you and your awareness campaign and the Trust (which the engineer was very well aware of) and he also recommended another alarm in a different room to keep all bases covered, which we’ve now done.
So thank you once again, without knowing about Katie’s story I never would have known or realised what was happening and acted so quickly, and for anyone not being aware of Carbon Monoxide poisoning and not having an alarm is a very scary prospect indeed which makes your campaign so very important, as situations like this happen every single day in households everywhere!”