Carbon monoxide alarm saved our lives after leak

Photo Neil Cross
Gillian Holmes is warning everyone to make sure they have a carbon monoxide alarm in the house after hers saved the life of her and her two-year-old daughter, Agatha
Photo Neil Cross Gillian Holmes is warning everyone to make sure they have a carbon monoxide alarm in the house after hers saved the life of her and her two-year-old daughter, Agatha
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A mum and her daughter were left minutes from death after a gas leak as they slept.

Gillian Holmes, from Preston, was awoken by the sound of her carbon monoxide alarm - which she tried to silence, and even considered taking out the batteries.

But, after calling the gas emergency number, it became clear there had been a major gas leak in her Lea house.

The pair escaped unharmed, and Gillian is now urging everybody to make sure they have carbon monoxide alarms in their homes.

“If that little alarm hadn’t gone off, we would not have woken up in the morning”, said Gillian, 30.

She and two-year-old daughter Agatha had been asleep in their beds in the early hours of Tuesday, when the alarm began to sound at about 3.30am.

Gillian said: “I tried changing the batteries, restarting it, I almost thought about taking the batteries out and going back to bed.

“But my gut told me to trust it, so I called the gas emergency number, and they told me to turn off the gas on the wall next to the boiler, and the National Grid sent somebody out to cut all of the gas off to the house.”

The boiler was in the kitchen, directly below toddler Agatha’s bedroom.

The following morning, another gas engineer visited the home. Carbon monoxide is measured in Parts Per Million (PPM) with normal fresh air containing zero, with the maximum recommended indoor level at 9PPM.

Gillian said: “The engineer switched everything back on and said he was expecting a reading of 200PPM, maybe just over, that’s what you would expect after a carbon monoxide leak. It was coming up at 3,500PPM.

“With it being that high, another gas engineer I spoke to said it would probably have taken another 20 minutes or half an hour and we would have died in our sleep.

“It really, really hit home.

“We went to Royal Preston Hospital on Tuesday evening to make sure everything was OK, and everything was fine, but now I’m just trying to tell all my friends and family to get a carbon monoxide alarm.

“It was a faulty valve in the boiler, which has just been replaced.”
She added that carbon monoxide can also come from solid fuels including wood burning stoves, and urged everyone to buy detectors.

She said: “It terrifies me how close we came. If I had not had that detector, I wouldn’t be talking to you now.

“I would say everybody needs to go and get one.

“You can get them for £12.99. Mine was about three years ago and it was £14.99.

“It was the best £14.99 I’ve ever spent.

“I’m not being anxious about it, I’m just trying to be positive that it was good that we had it.

“It was probably the best decision I’ve ever made in my life to buy one, and to not take the batteries out of it.

“It’s as important, if not more, than a smoke alarm.

“You can smell smoke, you can see it, whereas with carbon monoxide there’s nothing.”