Elderly sisters survive carbon monoxide gas poisoning

Irish homeowners encouraged to install carbon monoxide alarms

Two women, aged 82 and 92, are recovering at Cork University Hospital after suffering suspected carbon monoxide poisoning from a wood burning stove at their home in Blarney Street on the northside of Cork city. Photograph: Patrick Hogan/Provision

Two women, aged 82 and 92, are recovering at Cork University Hospital after suffering suspected carbon monoxide poisoning from a wood burning stove at their home in Blarney Street on the northside of Cork city. Photograph: Patrick Hogan/Provision

 

Householders have been reminded of the importance of fitting carbon monoxide detectors in their homes after two elderly sisters were exposed to the gas at their home in Cork city over the weekend.

The women, aged 82 and 92, are recovering at Cork University Hospital after suffering suspected carbon monoxide poisoning from a wood burning stove at their home in Blarney Street on the northside of the city on Saturday.

The alarm was raised by a neighbour who calls to check on the elderly sisters at about 9am every day. The neighbour notified the gardaí after she failed to get a response and found the door locked.

Gardaí from Gurranebraher Garda station arrived at the house and broke down the door where they found the two sisters unconscious on the sitting room floor.

The sisters were taken by ambulance to Cork University Hospital where they were treated and regained consciousness. It’s understood they are now in a comfortable condition but will be kept under observation for a few days.

The incident prompted Eamon Timmins of Age Action Ireland to urge householders to invest in installing carbon monoxide alarms to alert them to any build up of poisonous gas when burning fuel.

“We would really encourage people if they have not a carbon monoxide alarm to install one in the coming days,” said Mr Timmons. “It is vital during the winter that people have these alarms fitted wherever they are burning fuel- it’s a really valuable investment which can save lives.”

The elderly sisters owned a grocery shop on the street prior to their retirement and are well respected locally. Gardaí say if it wasn’t for the vigilance of the neighbour the women would have died.

Supt Con Cadogan of Gurranebraher Garda station paid tribute to the gardaí who attended the scene for their quick response and the neighbour who raised the alarm.

“This really highlights the benefits of people checking on their elderly neighbours,” he said. “If the neighbours here didn’t know the sisters’ routine and hadn’t checked on them when they did, then we would be dealing with a terrible tragedy.”

Carbon monoxide is understood to be responsible for an average six deaths a year in Ireland. The poisonous carbon monoxide gas has no colour or odour and its health symptoms often echo routine illnesses such as the common flu.

Levels of 50 per cent and over can cause unconsciousness, convulsions, coma and death. A person suffering from carbon monoxide levels between 10 per cent and 30 per cent displays symptoms such as headaches and tiredness.