Poster contest highlights deadly barbecue threat

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A competition has been launched by Southern Gas Networks and CO-Gas Safety to highlight the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

There were three deaths from CO poisoning from barbecues last year, two in 2010 and one in 2007.

The most recent tragedy involved a girl of 14 being gassed by a BBQ in a family tent as they enjoyed a bank holiday trip earlier this month.

The new competition serves as a reminder to those going on camping holidays or to music festivals not to take a barbecue into a tent even if it has burned down as the charcoal might still be burning and emitting the deadly carbon monoxide.

SGN and CO-Gas Safety are running the competition to find the most eye-catching safety poster to warn people about the dangers of CO. The competition is opened to pupils’ aged 11 and 12.

Entry is free and there is £300 for each winning pupil and £500 for each winning school. The winners will also be invited down to the Houses of Parliament as part of the prize.

Stephanie Trotter of CO-Gas Safety, said: “We are hoping for some brilliant entries to help us get the message across. Not only about BBQ deaths but carbon monoxide poisoning in general and the fact that it is a silent killer as you cannot smell or hear it and it really can take anyone by surprise.

“CO is a deadly gas which can be emitted by the burning of any carbon based fuel and it’s important that we teach children the dangers so they can prevent injury or death.

“Every year about 40 people die in the UK and getting on for 300 suffer a near miss and these are the ones we know about. There is no automatic test on dead bodies for CO even in cases of unexplained deaths so we know we only count the tip of an iceberg.”

Gary Barnes of SGN said: “We are delighted to be working with CO-Gas Safety on this schools competition. We want to encourage pupils’ from all over Scotland to get involved and enter the competition.

“Unfortunately most people associate carbon monoxide poisoning only with natural gas appliances; in fact CO can be produced by burning any fossil fuel and the tragic death of a teenager recently is a stark reminder of that.

“With the summer months fast approaching it’s vitally important that the public understands the dangers of CO from barbeques and about CO poisoning in the home.

“If people aren’t aware of the dangers, they can’t take precautions, such as regular servicing of gas appliances and fitting good quality CO alarms. This campaign deserves our full and unqualified support, which we are delighted to give.”

The closing date for entries is July 31 and further details are available by logging on to the competition website