Carbon monoxide danger campaign kicks off

A campaign poster released by the fire department (Brandweer Twente/Twitter)A campaign poster released by the fire department (Brandweer Twente/Twitter)

A campaign about the dangers of carbon monoxide was launched in the Netherlands on Monday by the national fire department and Brandwonden Stichting (Netherlands Burns Foundation). The nationwide civil defense siren that is tested monthly at midday marked the start of the campaign.

Each year about 11 people in the Netherlands die and 150 are hospitalized or receive emergency treatment as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning. Most people are poisoned in their homes due to defects in the home, such as torn, disconnected, rusted or corroded pipes and hoses, or errors in installation of kitchen stoves. Insufficient ventilation and malfunctioning heaters and water boilers are also possible causes, reports the fire department.

Carbon monoxide. or CO, is a very dangerous gas; it can be fatal but It is also odorless and colorless and so very difficult to detect. It is described by the campaign, and by health organizations worldwide, as the "silent killer". The campaign will aim to raise awareness about the causes, symptoms and treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning, the Fire Department said.

"You can easily ensure that your home is not at risk, but you have to know how," said Hilda Raasing of the Board of Fire Brigade Commanders (RBC), reported de Telegraaf.

"Part of the campaign is a test, so you understand how much you are at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning", continued Raasing. "We advise everyone to do the test through"

The campaign follows the deaths of a man and a woman in Limburg on Sunday night which are suspected to be the result of carbon monoxide poisoning. Earlier this year five police officers were also poisoned by the gas, and last year six people became ill in a Friesland clothing store. Calls for mandatory carbon monoxide detectors were made early last year via a Facebook page by the parents of two young children who died from CO poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is an extremely poisonous gas produced by the incomplete combustion of gas or wood. Initially symptoms resemble those of the flu: headaches, fatigue and nausea. Victims usually become unconscious before they realize they have been poisoned by the gas, warns the fire department in an extensive information page on their website.