With the summer holidays fast approaching, many families are turning their thoughts to their holiday packing. While we worry about forgetting the suncream or toothpaste, there’s one essential that probably won’t cross your mind – and this one could save your life.

 A carbon monoxide alarm is becoming the new must-have item for holidays both abroad and here in the UK.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a scentless, tasteless gas that last year claimed the life on one man and injured two others claimed the lives of two children during a family holiday in Scotland. Known as the ‘silent killer’, this deadly gas puts 200 people in hospital every year, and causes around 50 deaths.

Awareness of the dangers of CO poisoning has been on the rise after recent high-profile cases. However, according to Gas Safe Register, 40 people have been killed or injured by CO whilst staying in a tent, caravan, holiday cottage or boat in Britain in the last two years alone.

The easiest way to protect your family from the invisible dangers of carbon monoxide is to pack a CO alarm in your suitcase. Products such as the Fire Angel’s CO-9X portable CO alarm lasts 7 years and will alert you to CO emissions from faulty boilers, cookers, BBQs or any similar appliances.

When buying a CO alarm, make sure that it has been designed to comply with all British standards, so that even low levels of carbon monoxide are detected. They needn’t take up much packing space either; the Fire Angel’s alarm is about as big as a bar of soap.

Director of the UK’s leading CO awareness campaign Project Shout, Rob Lyon comments: “We all think about taking some safety essentials with us on holiday, whether it’s travel insurance or first aid kits, but a carbon monoxide alarm should also be front of mind when packing your case.

“The nature of carbon monoxide means it only an alarm will alert you to its presence. Popping one of these on to a shelf in your villa or apartment can give you peace of mind that your family is protected.”

Project Shout share these other tips on how to stay safe from CO:

  • Fuel-burning appliances, such as boilers, should regularly be checked by a registered engineer and faulty appliances replaced.
  • Carbon Monoxide alarms should be fitted in every room where there is a fuel-burning appliance, plus one in each bedroom. CO alarms should also be installed in any room which a flue passes through, even if it’s enclosed or concealed.
  • When camping, CO can enter your tent or caravan from a lit campfire or BBQ outside, so a CO alarm is still an important safety tool.
  • Young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with heart or respiratory conditions are the most vulnerable to CO emissions. Even low levels can be harmful, so take extra care.
  • Never ignore your CO alarm if it goes off, even if you suspect it’s faulty. Any delay in resolving issue could have fatal consequences.
  • If your alarm does go off, open all doors and windows to let in fresh air and then leave the room. Turn off all fuel-burning appliances and then leave the building and call your fuel provider. Contact your doctor or A&E and tell them that you suspect CO poisoning – they can arrange a blood test and check for symptoms.