‘We could have died!’ Norfolk family feel lucky to be alive after being treated for carbon monoxide poisoning
PUBLISHED: 12:00 13 June 2013
© Archant Norfolk 2013
A Norfolk family say they feel lucky to be alive after attending hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning.
The Lovick family did not know what to do when their carbon monoxide alarm went off and are urging others to be made aware of what action to take in the event of a carbon monoxide leak.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause death and brain damage.
Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service advises that if people suspect a carbon monoxide leak in their home they should open all windows, go out of the house and call 999 straight away.
But Kelly Lovick, 31, remained in her home at Field Dalling, near Fakenham, for approximately 30 minutes after the alarm went off.
During this time she made half a dozen telephone calls as she attempted to find out what she needed to do.
Her husband Steven, 34, turned the boiler off and opened all windows. He and their children Kieran, 10, Kimberley, eight, and Summer, five, were out of the house within 10 minutes of the alarm going off.
Mrs Lovick was eventually told, after calling NHS Direct, that she needed to get to a hospital urgently.
The Lovicks were fed oxygen for two hours at the accident and emergency department of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
They suffered mild carbon monoxide poisoning and were told they should not endure any further problems.
But Mrs Lovick believes the situation could have been much worse.
She said: “We could have died. I think it is shocking that nobody we called knew what we needed to do.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to since this incident said they wouldn’t know what to do in the same situation.”
The Lovicks live at a Victory Housing Trust home. Their carbon monoxide alarm went off at around 7am on Tuesday last week, 30 minutes after the boiler switched on. The boiler had been serviced for Victory the previous day.
Mrs Lovick said when she called Victory she was told to call the National Grid, who told her to call Oftec. Oftec then told her to call the fire brigade. A crew from Holt made the house safe and advised the Lovicks to get medical attention.
Mr Lovick called their local surgery and made an appointment.
He received a call back 10 minutes later to say this was not something the surgery could deal with.
It was only after Mrs Lovick called NHS Direct that she was told to go to hospital as soon as possible.
Mrs Lovick has made a formal complaint to Victory Housing. She believes the trust should provide clear information about what action to take in such incidents.
Darryl Cox, deputy chief executive of Victory Housing Trust, said: “We were concerned to hear about the incident.
“The Lovicks’ home is an example of where Victory has installed a carbon monoxide alarm when there is no legal requirement to do so.
“When the Lovicks contacted our out-of-hours helpline they were correctly instructed to open all windows and vacate the property, but we accept that they feel that they wanted more guidance.
“We are reviewing as a matter of urgency how we deal with such enquiries.
“We are relieved and pleased that the Lovicks did not suffer any lasting harm, and that the carbon monoxide detector which we installed alerted the family to the danger.”
Victory is investigating the servicing work that was done and did not want to comment on that.
Mrs Lovick said: “It is important that our story is told.
“If this helps to save one life then something good has come from this.”
A Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “Carbon monoxide detectors are available for around £5 and the fire service strongly advocate getting them fitted.
“Carbon monoxide is odourless and colourless and it can be very difficult to spot a leak.
“Early signs and symptoms to look out for: headaches, drowsiness and the face becoming a distinctive cherry red colour.
“If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning in your home, we advise opening windows, going outside and calling 999.”
For more information, go to www.norfolkfireservice.gov.uk/nfrs/your-safety/safety-in-y our-home/19-useful-guides/10 -carbon-monoxide-the-silent-killer
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