News story

Campers reminded of barbecue carbon monoxide (CO) risk

With the bank holiday approaching, campers are reminded never to take barbecues inside their tents because of the risk of CO poisoning.

Disposable barbeque

The potentially deadly gas, which you can’t taste, smell or see, is produced when fossil fuels or wood burn without enough oxygen. Several campsite deaths have been linked to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from barbecues in recent years. The gas can build up quickly to potentially fatal levels in enclosed spaces such as tents or caravans.

Campers are reminded never to light, use or leave smouldering barbecues inside tents, awnings or other enclosed spaces because of the risks.

When you have finished with the barbecue, dispose of it carefully and ensure the ashes are fully extinguished to prevent a fire risk. Symptoms of CO poisoning include:

  • headaches
  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • chest pains
  • nausea
  • vomiting

At high levels, CO poisoning can cause:

  • sudden collapse
  • loss of consciousness
  • death

Anyone who suspects they are suffering from CO poisoning should go outside and seek medical help from a qualified healthcare professional, or call NHS on 111.

Find out more about carbon monoxide poisoning.

Find out more about barbecue safety.

PHE scientist Isabella Myers talks about the dangers of carbon monoxide from barbecues in enclosed spaces such as tents, awnings and caravans.

Watch this video about the dangers of carbon monoxide from barbecues in enclosed spaces

Published 23 May 2014