Carbon monoxide poisoning awareness urged

Port of Liverpool police are now using personal carbon monoxide detectors when inspecting ships.

UK gas safety charity, The CORGI Trust, and The Port of Liverpool Police force  have been  urging foreign vessel crew members arriving into UK ports, and all personnel working on vessels, to be aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Peter Clarke, chief officer at The Port of Liverpool Police said, ‘Our officers regularly attend ships of all nations and types for varying reasons. If there is an occasion where ships crew members have collapsed for unknown reasons it is highly possible they maybe suffering the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. It can be a serious problem on any ship.’ Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colourless gas that is present in the exhaust produced in gasoline engines. Ships release carbon monoxide through the exhaust ports of vessels that are either idling or underway and exhaust from generator sets. When inhaled, carbon monoxide replaces oxygen in tissues.

Nigel Dumbrell, trust manager of The CORGI Trust addd, ‘We are witnessing more ship related cases each day. Our concern is not only for the vessel crew members but also for those who have to inspect the ships, such as our emergency services.

‘There’s no other way to detect carbon monoxide other than through an audible carbon monoxide alarm. We have recently provided the Port of Liverpool police with some CO personal detectors so that their staff can go on board vessels with the reassurance that they won’t be subjected to carbon monoxide poisoning. I seriously believe that this practice should be adopted by all those working on UK ports, especially our emergency services.’

Recent research by The CORGI Trust highlights the seriousness of the matter even further, with statistics showing that from 2006 to 2008 carbon monoxide poisoning was responsible for 56 deaths in the UK from a total of 265 incidents. In the 12 months to April 2008 there were 150 CO exposure incidents, the highest number since The CORGI Trust’s records began in 1986.

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