Belfast Telegraph

Mothers of boys killed by carbon monoxide poisoning in Castlerock extend campaign

By Clare Carswell

Two mothers left heartbroken after their teenage sons died from carbon monoxide poisoning while staying at a holiday apartment are taking their safety message to the rest of the UK.

Catherine McFerran and Katrina Davidson lost their 18-year-old sons, Neil and Aaron respectively while they were on a holiday break in Castlerock, Co Londonderry.

Their friend Matthew Gaw, who was also in the seaside apartment at the time, survived.

They had gone to the luxury apartment in August 2010 to relax ahead of receiving exam results. After they failed to come home their concerned parents travelled to the property.

They found Aaron and Neil lying in the flat having been overcome by carbon monoxide fumes. The parents battled in vain to save their sons' lives.

Now the boys' mothers, from Newtownabbey, want to ensure such a tragedy is not repeated elsewhere.

They spoke out as the installation of carbon monoxide alarms become compulsory in Scotland from tomorrow when a fuel-burning appliance is fitted.

"Since our sons were cruelly taken from us by this silent killer, we have campaigned to try to prevent similar tragedies," they said in a statement.

"Carbon monoxide alarms are now compulsory for all new homes in Northern Ireland and when new appliances are installed in Scotland, but many people in older homes or in the rest of the UK may still be at risk.

"Make sure you and your loved ones are protected, make sure you have a working, audible carbon monoxide alarm in your home. It is not a risk worth taking."

Research suggests that more than half of the British population are at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning because they do not have an alarm fitted to detect the potentially fatal gas.

The study, conducted by the Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed! campaign in August, found 35 million Britons at risk: 31 million in England, 2.4 million in Scotland and 1.6 million in Wales.

Carbon monoxide is known as a silent killer because it has no smell, colour or taste and can be produced by a faulty or poorly ventilated fuel-burning appliance such as a boiler, fire or cooker.

EXPERT VIEW

"At high levels, carbon monoxide can kill in a matter of minutes.

"The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are very hard to recognise, even for doctors, as they are similar to many common illnesses like flu and food poisoning.

"Don't take the risk. Most people wouldn't dream of not having a smoke alarm – it should be the same with carbon monoxide alarms."

Dr Rob Hicks, GP and medical commentator

Belfast Telegraph

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