Lympstone couple lucky to be alive after carbon monoxide scare

A RELIEVED Lympstone couple believe they could quite easily have died following an incident where the invisible killer carbon monoxide seeped into their home.

Catherine Hennessy, 68, and her husband John, 82, of Church Road, however, were saved by specialist alarms fitted in their property – all of which sounded after detecting poisonous fumes from a coal burner stove.

Mrs Hennessy, recalling the dramatic chain of events, said: “I went to bed at 11pm and just before midnight all the carbon monoxide detectors started screaming at us.

“We then phoned the fire brigade and asked what we should do. They told us to get out of the house and they would come over. We followed that advice and they came very quickly.

“The detectors continued going all the while that we were waiting for the fire brigade because you can’t turn them off. They only switch off when the carbon monoxide level goes down.”


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Mrs Hennessy joked: “We were thinking we would wake the whole village.”

She added: “When the firefighters came they opened all the doors and windows and carried out an investigation in the house. They were very thorough.

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“We told them that we thought it was the stove causing the problem which they later agreed.

“They then emptied all the coal and ash out and put a hose pipe onto it. After about two hours it was all cleared so we could return to the house.

“If we hadn’t have had these detectors, we’d probably be dead. It is an invisible killer because there was no smell at all apart from a very slight smokey emission.

“I was, though, feeling a bit nauseous.”

The lucky couple attended the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital the following morning for a medical check-up. They were both given the all-clear.

But, Mrs Hennessy explained: “The doctor, though, was very adamant that if we didn’t have the detectors there probably would have been a fatality.”

Crew manager Giles White, from the fire service, said: “The saving grace for them was they had detectors on every level of the house and they probably saved their lives.

“Carbon monoxide is a silent and invisible killer.”

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