Case Studies: Non-Fatal

Please note that there are more case studies in our press packs which can be found under the heading ‘Information’. We are trying to find time to unify the style and upload them here under this heading as well.

Norman & Yvonne Redstone – Survived in 2019
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Ages: 85 & 78
Fuel: Mains gas
Appliance & Location: Back boiler in their home

Notes by CO-Gas Safety: This case study is written by David Redstone, whose parents were alerted to excessive CO in their home by an alarm given by CO-Gas Safety. The position of this type of boiler, behind another fixed gas appliance, means that they very often do not receive full servicing and maintenance as often as is required. Chimneys and flues servicing these boilers are often not swept regularly, nor the boilers themselves given a thorough inspection or clean.

 

Gill Wing – Survived in 2016
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Age: 50
Fuel: Mains gas
Appliance & Location: Central heating boiler in her home

Notes by CO-Gas Safety: This private householder had her boiler serviced annually by Gas Safe registered engineers, but it was her neighbour’s carbon monoxide alarm that saved her from a potentially fatal fault in the design of her installation. In this case study she tells of the frustration she then experienced when accessing medical help.

 

Gary Denley – Survived in 2016
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Age: 59
Fuel: Wood
Appliance & Location: Self-installed woodburning stove at home

Notes by CO-Gas Safety: This case study was published in our 2018 press pack. The stove was installed to all the correct standards and caused no problems for the first season of use.  It was only after a later modification to the chimney top that a CO alarm thankfully alerted this household to a potentially lethal problem.

 

Rebecca Scarlett – Long-term exposure in 2014
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Fuel: Mains gas
Appliance: Central heating boiler
Location: In the flat she owned

Notes by CO-Gas Safety: This case study was kindly written by Rebecca  for our 2019 press pack. Her experience shows that few medical professionals think to test a patient for carbon monoxide poisoning when they present with symptoms. Over several months Rebecca had serious health issues and numerous tests, but none were for CO. Years after removing the source of the poison, Rebecca had increasing after-effects of exposure and became one of many survivors to benefit from the support and advice of CO-Gas Safety.

 

Tom Neal – Survived in 2014
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Fuel: Mains gas
Appliance: Gas fire
Location: In the rented home he had lived in for almost 20 years

Notes by CO-Gas Safety: CO-Gas Safety was able to help Tom with information about gas safety and the legislation that applies to rental properties. He and his family had been suffering symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning over several years and, when Stephanie Trotter’s help lead to his gas appliance being condemned, Tom was shocked at the lack of legal empowerment available in such circumstances.

 

Anonymous mother & son – Survived 2011-2015
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Fuel: Solid fuel
Appliance: Professionally installed woodburning stove
Location: In the home this mother owned

Notes by CO-Gas Safety: This case study was published in our 2018 press pack. Despite being told the stove was fitted to HETAS standards and having the flue swept, faults in the installation of this stove repeatedly lead to this mother and son being poisoned. The final occasion could have been fatal. Navigating the legal system following this negligent installation was stressful, lengthy and ultimately insufficient, as is too often the case for victims of such dangerous tradesmen.

 

John Courtney – Survived in 2010
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Age: 54
Fuel: Mains gas
Appliance & Location: Commercial hot water boiler in an office basement

Notes by CO-Gas Safety: John was an experienced Gas Emergency Service engineer (First Call Operative) working for Wales & West Utilities when he survived what could easily have been a fatal encounter with CO. The boiler he was called to look at had been wrongly adjusted the previous day by gas engineers who, although Gas Safe registered, were not certified for that appliance type. It is not widely realised that each Gas Safe Register identity card details the type of appliances that each engineer is qualified to work on.

 

Sue Westwood – Long-term exposure in 2003-6
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Age: 33
Fuel: Mains gas
Appliance & Location: Central heating boiler in her new home

Notes by CO-Gas Safety: Sue has tried to raise awareness of unintentional CO poisoning through the press by recounting her experience of undiagnosed long-term symptoms. Despite two hospital stays and multiple GP visits for herself and her young son, the cause of her many debilitating conditions (including complete collapse) was discovered by chance during a routine boiler check.

 

John & Irma O’Leary – Long-term exposure in 2003-4
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Fuel: Mains gas
Appliance: Central heating boiler
Location: Their rented home managed by a TMO (tenant management organisation)

Notes by CO-Gas Safety: John O’Leary and his family suffered long-term low-level exposure to CO and other toxins over a period of time in 2003-4. CO-Gas Safety were able to help them by recommending a good lawyer and thankfully their case was successful. John is a writer and artist, and has helped the charity hugely by illustrating for us several times. Irma has very kindly become a trustee.  We are grateful to them for allowing us to recount their experience with both their landlord and the medical profession.

 

Ann Daniels – Survived in 2002
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Age: 37
Fuel: ‘White gas’, a type of LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas)
Appliance & Location: Portable cooker in a tent on an expedition to the North Pole

Notes by CO-Gas Safety: Ann Daniels is a World Record-breaking polar explorer. She has completed over 14 polar expeditions. In 2002 she put together the first all-woman team to ski continually from land to the North Geographic Pole. Having heard about a near-fatal exposure to carbon monoxide that Ann and her team had on that epic expedition, despite their good knowledge of the dangers of CO, CO-Gas Safety asked her to write this case study and we are immensely grateful to her for doing so.

 

Janet Blount – Survived in 1999
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Age: 43
Fuel: Mains gas
Appliance & Location: Boiler in her work office

Notes by CO-Gas Safety: This case study is written by Janet and shows that exposure can easily go unnoticed on a daily basis. CO poisoning can also have delayed and serious ongoing symptoms. Janet’s colleagues, though annoyed at the inconvenience that her complaints caused at the time, are lucky that she persisted in identifying the boiler as an immediate danger.

 

Sandra Smith – Long-term exposure in 1986
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Age: Exposure at 43, symptoms ongoing for decades
Fuel: Mains gas
Appliance & Location: Central heating boiler & fire in her home

Notes by CO-Gas Safety: Sandra Smith, Carbon Monoxide Support, Barnsley, first contacted Stephanie Trotter around 20 years ago to tell Stephanie about her poisoning. She had been doing what she could to survive and to raise awareness ever since, despite her poor health. Stephanie is very grateful to this survivor for all her support to the work of CO-Gas Safety and also to Stephanie over the years. Sadly, Sandra has recently passed away and her husband has helped us to conclude this case study, initially written by Sandra herself.

 

Tony Dymott – Survived in 1976
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Age: 23
Fuel: Petrol
Appliance & Location: Police van used at work

Notes by CO-Gas Safety: This incident would most likely not happen today, due to changes in vehicle technology and Police working practices, but it shows the danger posed by petrol exhaust emissions, even when not in an enclosed space.