Suspected carbon monoxide poisoning from inside barbecue

FIVE people, after cooking on a barbecue indoors suffered suspected carbon monoxide poisoning.

The three women and two men, aged from their teens into their 50s, developed headaches and nausea after using the barbecue inside for about four hours.

Paramedics were called to the home in Campbellfield, about 25km north of Melbourne CBD, at 10.45pm last night.

Metropolitan Fire Brigade commander Bob Lanigan said: “It’s an extremely dangerous gas.

“In this case they were extremely lucky.”

Cdr Lanigan told 3AW that any type of barbecue indoors was a dangerous activity - especially barbecues that use heat beads or charcoal because they were the worst producers of carbon monoxide.

The group was treated for suspected carbon monoxide poisoning and taken to the Royal Melbourne and The Northern hospitals.

All were in a stable condition last night.

Three members of Basnett family killed in Gunning water tank tragedy

Andrew, Anne and Richard Basnett have been described as "pillars of the community" by devastated friends after they died inside a water tank on Thursday night.

Husband and wife Andrew and Anne, and Andrew's brother Richard, were found dead inside a concrete water tank at their property just off the Hume Highway, near Oolong, between Yass and Gunning.

Andrew, 69, had collapsed while cleaning the empty cement tank with a motorised water pump. Anne, 63, and Richard, 68, went to his assistance but also collapsed.

They are all believed to have been poisoned by carbon monoxide gas that built up in the tank as the water pump was used.

Before entering the tank, Anne is believed to have called neighbours, who then contacted emergency services about 6.20pm.

Emergency services personnel retrieved the bodies from the tank near the front of the property just after 9pm.

Acting Superintendent Andrew Koutsoufis of Hume Local Area Command said the cause of death was being investigated.

"There was a petrol pump being used to clean the tank and that may have been the cause of the build-up of fumes at the bottom of the water tank," he said. "It appears that it was lowered into the tank and that's caused the gases to be at the bottom of the tank." He said the teams called to the scene had to wait for gas levels to recede before retrieving the bodies.

Superintendent Koutsoufis said the "close-knit town" was "hurting at the moment" and the family who lost three relatives were devastated.

Neighbours said the couple had farmed the property - called Nerragundah - since the early 1980s at least and their contribution to the town of Gunning would be sorely missed.

They leave behind three adult children, living in Sydney, as well as a number of grandchildren.

The event, in which the couple were finalists, has been cancelled as a mark of respect. The Basnett's were also involved in the Gunning Garden Club and a number of other community organisations.

Deputy mayor and close family friend Kim Turner paid tribute to the couple on Friday. "It's a massive loss for the community. They were great community people, and the loss is insurmountable, not only in Gunning, but throughout the region. "I personally will miss both of them enormously. "They were great community people. Annie was involved in a theatrical group and Andy played golf with us each week."

A neighbour, who did not wish to be named, added: "We are devastated. It is safe to say we are all in shock. They were lovely people."

Yass Valley Council Mayor Rowena Abbey and family friend of the Basnetts said the region was in a state of shock.

"This is an extraordinarily sad day for many of us as their friends," she said. "Andy and Annie were wonderful people, full of laughter and passion for life. They loved their farm, their friends and particularly their children and grand children.

"The friends of the family request that Andy and Annie's children be allowed time to try to come to terms with this enormous loss and be given space to grieve."

The deaths are not being treated as suspicious. A brief will be prepared for the information of the coroner, as officers from the Hume Local Area Command have established a crime scene to be examined by forensic officers.

Health chief issues a warning on carbon monoxide poisoning after woman lights a barbecue inside her home to keep warm

A Perth woman has suffered serious carbon monoxide poisoning after using a charcoal barbecue as a heater.

The incident has prompted health officials to warn against using outdoor appliances in enclosed areas. 

Western Australia's chief health officer Tarun Weeramanthri said burning fuels or using unflued heaters in non-ventilated areas can cause poisoning, which can lead to serious tissue damage and death.

'Somebody who is intoxicated or sleeping can die from carbon monoxide poisoning without ever experiencing symptoms,' Professor Weeramanthri said, according to Perth Now.

'Anybody who believes they might be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning should go outside immediately and not return inside until they have recovered completely.

'Once in the fresh air, recovery is usually fast so if this does not happen it is important to call Health Direct on 1800 022 222 or the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26. 


  • In January 2011, a Queensland man died from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning caused by generator fumes while taking shelter from cyclone Yasi.
  • In 2009, a 43-year-old Sydney man died from carbon monoxide poisoning after using an outdoor charcoal barbeque inside his home.
  • During 2006-07, there were 365 public hospital cases for carbon monoxide poisonings recorded in Australia.
  • In the US around 30 deaths and 450 injuries each year are related to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.                                                                                                        Source: ACCC 

The odourless, colourless and highly poisonous gas is produced by any fuel-burning appliance. Early symptoms include dizziness, nausea and confusion.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause heart disease and brain damage and is often deadly.

Women and baby suffer carbon monoxide poisoning while camping at Wallhalla

Three women and a 15-month-old baby from the same family are recovering after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning while camping in Victoria's east.

The family went to bed with a butane heater on inside their tent at a camp ground near Walhalla, near Baw Baw National Park on Sunday night.

Family members went to check on the crying baby and found the three unconscious women inside the tent. They were dragged out into the fresh air and driven to hospital in nearby Sale.All four have since been released from hospital.

The incident came a week after the death of an Ararat man who was found inside his home using a camping heater attached to an LPG bottle. Officials are waiting for toxicology tests to determine if he died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Safety regulator Energy Safe said it was a reminder never to use gas appliances designed for outdoor use in enclosed spaces.

"Carbon monoxide is a silent killer. You can't see it. You can't smell it and you can't taste it," said Paul Fearon, Victoria's director of Energy Safety. "The golden rule is if an appliance is attached to a potable gas bottle, don't bring it inside."

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can include headaches, fatigue and nausea.

Greystanes man dies from carbon monoxide poisoning in bid to warm bedroom

ALL Ajanthan Navarathinam wanted was to stay safe but on a cold winter’s night he made a tragic mistake that cost him his life.

Ajanthan fled Sri Lanka in desperate circumstances with his brother Jisi three years ago, leaving behind his wife, young son and unborn daughter. The brothers boarded a leaky boat to Australia and spent months in detention centres before finally being granted a bridging visa.

On Thursday night, the pair enjoyed a barbecue with friends at their home in Greystanes before Ajanthan, 29, made a fateful decision as he tried to stay warm. Ajanthan took a frying pan containing heat beads used on the barbecue into the bedroom before going to sleep.

His distraught brother Jisi, 28, had been out visiting friends and did not realise anything was wrong until the next evening. “I touched him but he didn’t move, I grabbed him and he couldn’t talk with me,” Jisi said. “Two of my friends we took him to the hospital, but he was gone.”

Police say they believe Ajanthan suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning from the heat beads.

“I didn’t see him with that (the heat beads), even if I had seen that I didn’t know to tell him they’re dangerous,” Jisi said.

Jisi described his brother as a strong man who was never sick, who enjoyed martial arts and was always there for him. “He was always looking after me, he would always tell me I was his child,” Jisi said tears running down his face. “He was my brother, my father, my parents, everything ... I can’t do anything without him, he was guiding me.”

Jisi said Ajanthan dreamt of being reunited with his family in Sri Lanka including his wife and two children, a son aged four and daughter aged two. “His younger daughter, he never met in his life,” Jisi said. “I need to bring his family here, if they see his face, that is enough for me, at least his daughter has to see his face.”

Ajanthan said he could not bear to speak to his parents about what had happened. “They said please don’t try to come back here (to Sri Lanka) ... you have to live.”

Anjanthan’s death was the second fatal case of carbon monoxide poisoning this winter.


■ Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide is a gas that you cannot see, taste or smell

■ In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide

■ Gas or charcoal grills can produce carbon monoxide and should only be used outside

■ Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea and drowsiness.


Ararat man's death prompts warning

ARARAT has been saddened by the death of a man simply trying to stay warm.

The 68-year-old was located deceased in a bed at his home in Barkly Street at around 4.30pm on Sunday.

Police suspect the man had been using a carbon monoxide emitting outdoor gas heater in his bedroom to keep warm.

Ararat police sergeant Shane Allgood said the death was particularly sad given it could have been prevented. "It appears to be the case that a reasonably healthy person has died unnecessarily," he said.

Sgt Allgood said a neighbour raised the alarm after they became concerned for the man's welfare.

"The neighbour has removed a gas bottle from the room, which had an outdoor radiant heater attached to it," he said. "Inspection of the house found the main heater in the lounge room wasn't working. “We suspect the man has been using the outdoor radiant heater to keep warm and the toxic fumes from that have killed him." Sgt Allgood said the most likely cause of death was from carbon monoxide poisoning.

"We have been able to find the packaging of the item used and it clearly states that it is not to be used inside," he said. "We reiterate that LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) devices are not designed to be used inside premises. "It is important that family, friends and neighbours check on each other, especially the elderly or people who live alone, to ensure that this isn't occurring. “If it is, then you need to take steps to have them stop doing it. "This was a particularly old house with very high ceilings.

“If someone has still died in those circumstances that means it could happen a lot quicker in houses built these days which are air-tight and have lower ceilings."

Country Fire Authority District 16 Operations Manager, Bernie Fradd said under no circumstances should people ever use LPG cylinders inside. Mr Fradd said residents should also ensure their indoor heaters are serviced on a regular basis.

"As the cold weather continues it's important to ensure indoor heaters are still in a safe, working condition," he said. "They should be serviced regularly, at least every two years, to help detect faults. "CFA is also warning people to never use heaters and cookers which use LPG cylinders inside. "Carbon monoxide is a known silent killer as it can't be seen and has no odour. "Simple steps can help prevent a potentially tragic outcome."

Dubbed the 'silent killer' carbon monoxide is found in fumes produced any time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces. It can leak undetected from faulty, unserviced heaters and can be lethal as it can't be seen and has no smell.

A new television and cinema campaign called 'Cold Feet' has shown that carbon monoxide poisoning can happen in any home or building with gas heating appliances, including newer ones.

Energy and Resources Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said householders need to take the messages contained in the safety campaign seriously.

“There is no room for complacency when it comes to carbon monoxide poisoning — it poses a real risk in every household,” she said. “To minimise the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in your home, find a gasfitter in your local area and make it a habit to get your gas heater serviced at least every two years.”

Authorities recommend having your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician.

Never use portable flame-less chemical heaters indoors and seek medical attention if you are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseous - all symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Leongatha family’s narrow escape from silent killer

By Danika Dent

Little Juhkobi is wheeled into the ambulance at the Lakes Entrance jetty on Tuesday morning. The 10 month old was put on oxygen for nine straight hours after the near death experience. Mum Rachael said her ‘stomach just dropped’ when she took hold of her ‘floppy’ baby.

RACHAEL Simpson’s heart sank when her 10-month old baby, Juhkobi, was handed to her last week, limp and seemingly lifeless – a silent killer was present on their 30 foot cruiser.

The Simpson family’s holiday to Lakes Entrance was supposed to be a relaxing time for Rachael, her husband Wade and their five children. But it nearly turned to tragedy. It was only thanks to son Kohdie’s obedience did the family survive a horror holiday.

The Leongatha family had been in Lakes Entrance on the boat for three days in near perfect conditions, but it all went wrong on Tuesday morning. While Rachael and Wade were upstairs getting breakfast ready, 10 month old Juhkobi, who had been unwell with an inner ear infection, whimpered. “Juhkobi and Kohdie were on the bed, playing and I heard a little cry from Juhkobi and I told Kohdie to bring him up,” Rachael said. “Thank goodness I did, because usually Kohdie would happily settle him on his own, but Kohdie brought him up to me and as I took him in my hands, Juhkobi’s eyes rolled to the back of his head and he went all floppy.

“At first I thought it was because of his ear infection, and I handed him to Wade, and that was it – he went unconscious and I knew immediately something was very seriously wrong. “Kohdie was sitting at the table and he was completely grey.
“He was incoherent. “He tried to get a glass of water that was sitting on the table, and his arms wouldn’t move.”
Somehow Rachael managed to supress the panic she was beginning to feel to send 10 year-old Khye to Wade’s dad’s boat for help.

Wade’s dad, Leo, immediately recognised the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning and the family was transferred to Leo’s boat for the half kilometre race back to the Lakes Entrance jetty while Rachael called an ambulance and attempted to keep the two boys conscious.

At the jetty the family was met by paramedics, SES, CFA, Coast Guard and police. The air ambulance helicopter was also called from Melbourne. Rachael jumped in the ambulance with Juhkobi, while Kohdie and Khye were in another. Wade was heartbreakingly left at the jetty.

Wade had to deal with the boat and emergency crews while his wife and children were transferred to Bairnsdale Hospital.
It wasn’t until the family were all in hospital that the true seriousness of the incident hit home. The two boys were put on hi-flow oxygen for nine straight hours and doctors were on high alert.

“The doctors said afterwards that if Juhkobi had been down there 60 seconds longer, we would’ve lost him and we would’ve lost Kohdie in two minutes,” Rachael said. Juhkobi and Kohdie were kept in hospital for 24 hours, while Khye, who had been exposed for just a couple of minutes, was discharged at lunchtime with a slight headache.

It could well have been a family tragedy on that Tuesday morning.
Known as the silent killer, carbon monoxide poisoning is deadly – but it all could’ve been avoided.

Kohdie Simpson is being hailed a hero; by handing over Juhkobi to mum Rachael, the family was saved from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Kohdie Simpson is being hailed a hero; by handing over Juhkobi to mum Rachael, the family was saved from carbon monoxide poisoning. “Carbon monoxide detectors should be compulsory on all boats,” Rachael said.

“We spend a lot of time on the boat and we’re always so careful – the kids have to wear lifejackets all the time, but you just don’t think of carbon monoxide. “It’s the last thing you expect.”

Following the shock of the morning, the family reflected on the cause. “The engine had to be put on to get hot water going for breakfast, and because there was just the tiniest hint of a breeze, it blew the carbon monoxide back into the boat,” Rachael said. Being heavier than oxygen, the two boys who were on the lower levels got the full brunt of the odourless gas.
“They’d only been down on the lower level for 10 minutes, it just happened so quickly.

“I’m so proud of Khodie that when I called, he listened and came straight up.” Wade and Rachael are holding their children extra close now. “We could’ve lost our kids,” Rachael said. “It really makes you prioritise – spend as much time with your kids, things can change in the blink of an eye.”

It certainly put the broken freezer, to which the family returned home to on Saturday, into perspective.

Ashburton deaths a 'tragic, terrible accident', says top cop

Cindy George and her three children – Pio, Teuruaa and Teiyzshwaun – could have been dead for up to a week before they were found in an Ashburton house.

Police have named the victims of an apparent accidental gassing as Cindy Tangipurunga George, 31, her daughter Pio Scarlet Jetejura Raukete, 5, and her sons Teuruaa Junior George, 3, and Teiyzshwaun Gordon Ricardo Nelder Kruz George, 2.

Police believe George and her children died from the fumes of a car left running in a garage to keep the battery "ticking over".

An internal door to the house was open, but the garage door was closed. "It looks as though it has been a tragic, terrible incident," Superintendent John Price said.

George had been looking after the Thomson St, Tinwald, house for her former partner's family, who is also the father of her children. Family members found the bodies on Thursday afternoon.  George's body was in the hallway. The children were found dead in the lounge where a television was still on. The car had run out of gas.

Superintendent Price told a press conference at 4pm on Friday that the bodies could have lain undiscovered in the house for up to a week. The bodies had been taken to a Christchurch mortuary. Autopsies would take place on Monday.

Price said investigators had "a fairly good idea" of the cause of the deaths but that could not be confirmed until the autopsies were completed.

"What we do know from the circumstances and reconstruction of the location is that it looks as though it has been a tragic, terrible incident."

"We don't have an exact period of death it could be a matter of days or up to possibly a week." Police were working with the community to establish the movements of the family prior to them being discovered, Price said.

The family were making arrangements for a family service once the bodies returned to Ashburton, he said.  The house is likely to be returned to the family Saturday, while the street cordon will be removed Friday night.


Officers, relatives and friends formed a guard of honour as the bodies were removed from the house on Friday afternoon.

Forensic investigators and a pathologist examined the scene before the victims were placed in two hearses and taken from the property about 2.20pm.

Scene guards would remain in place at the address overnight until a full scene examination was complete.

Thirty investigators were working on the inquiry.

Mid-South Canterbury Inspector Dave Gaskin said: "This is a tragedy and there are a number of questions we are looking for answers for. Our thoughts are with the family at this time."

It was understood a short service was held inside the house before the bodies were removed.

Several officers then escorted a group of family and friends from the property. The group did not speak, but walked closely to each other, some with their arms around others for support.  "It appears this is a very unusual death," Price said earlier.


George's parents were "heartbroken" by the death of their youngest child, a relative said. Her parents were still in the Cook Islands, while some of her siblings were headed to Ashburton from Australia. "Her parents ... are still heart broken as Cindy is the last born of the family," the relative said.

Cindy George was one of 14 siblings of which 10 still alive. Her sisters were from Auckland and Palmerston North had travelled down to Ashburton. Price said the father of children was"completely traumatised by the whole event". "He has tragically lost three of his beautiful children.

Ashburton Mayor Angus McKay said the "tragedy" highlighted the importance of the community to look out for one another. "It just shows that as we go about our daily lives, without being nosy, we should keep an eye on our neighbour and our neighbour's belongings, it's called neighbourhood watch." He said there were no plans for a community service.


Ashburton Pacific Island community liaison Tony Vainerere said George was a "nice friendly outgoing person". The children were "very nice". He did not know their names.

"It's very, very sad, it was devastating news ... very devastating and so unfortunate," he said of the deaths.

George, who is from the Cook Islands, worked at a meat works in Ashburton when she first arrived in the town about four years ago, but was now a stay-at-home mum, he said.  Vainerere described George as a "nice, friendly, outgoing" person.  He last saw George in the supermarket last week.

"The [Cook Island] community will always come together in situations like this. It's always been a very tight knit community in terms of tragedies."


Canterbury district commander superintendent John Price said a car in a garage attached to the house in Thomson St, Tinwald, Ashburton, may have released carbon monoxide fumes that made their way into the house. The woman was minding the house for family friends, who returned home and discovered the bodies about 4pm on Thursday.

The woman's body was found in a hallway between the garage and house. The car had an empty petrol tank and flat battery. It was possible that the car, which belonged to the house's owners, had been turned on to keep the battery "ticking over", Price said.

The bodies had not yet been formally identified, but the woman was understood to be the children's mother. Their father, also living in Ashburton, was separated from the woman. He was being supported by police, Victim Support, and the wider community. "It's been very hard for him," Price said.

Price said the bodies showed "absolutely no trauma" and there was no sign of forced entry to the house. Police would conduct a thorough scene examination and "firm up" the identities and continue speaking to members of the community to establish events leading up to the deaths, he said.

A pathologist had taken blood samples from the bodies for toxicology screening. Formal identification would be carried out on Friday.

Canterbury area commander Dave Gaskin told Radio New Zealand that the family friends who discovered the bodies were "extremely distraught".

About 30 police and forensic investigators were working on the case. A woman who lived in the house in front of the property where the bodies were found said the family were "very quiet".

Nearby resident Rex Turnbull said an ambulance and several firefighters wearing breathing apparatus were at the scene when he arrived home about 4.30pm.


Carbon monoxide is an colourless, odourless and tasteless gas produced by partially burning petrol, wood or natural gas.

The gas hijacks red blood cells, which transport oxygen around the body. This could result in sudden illness and death.

Symptoms of poisoning include tiredness, weakness, nausea, head and muscle aches, dizziness, confusion, a tight chest, and flushed appearance.

Sources of carbon monoxide include blocked chimneys, malfunctioning car engines and gas stoves, and burning fuels or running car engines in a confined space.

Makeshift heater found in Hawks Nest home ‘could have blown up house’

FIREFIGHTERS were shocked when they stumbled across a dangerous crude heater made from a recalled gas burner inside the home of an elderly Hunter resident on the weekend.

Called to assist paramedics remove an elderly woman who had gone into cardiac arrest, fire fighters came across the extremely hot device on the floor of the Hawks Nest home. Fashioned from a portable butane camp stove with a number of terracotta pots bolted together over the top, it was designed to act like a traditional radiator heater.

But it was a disaster waiting to happen, not least because the gas burner being used had been recalled by the NSW Department of Fair Trading as it posed a danger to users.

The heater also had the potential to cause significant destruction to the home if the gas cylinders had exploded.

“When they get hot, the gas cylinder that’s inside the machine, which is about the size of your average can of fly spray, has enough LPG inside that container to blow up your house,” he said. With the terracotta pots over the top the burner, Supt Cooper said there were two main dangers that could have posed a serious risk to the elderly resident. The flame could have extinguished and allowed gas to escape and fill the house, or it could have burned inefficiently, producing a lot more carbon monoxide.

While it was unknown if the heater played any part in the woman’s cardiac arrest, it had the possibility to. “She had a history of heart problems and we can’t really say if it was or it wasn’t (caused by the heater), but it could have been,” Supt Cooper said.

The discovery prompted fire fighters to once again call on people to stop using outdoor heaters and equipment inside the home. “People are taking huge risks with fire safety by doing this,” Supt Cooper said. “We try and encourage people to not be complacent and think a little bit more about their safety.”

Early last month a young Sydney couple were killed in the Blue Mountains when they brought a makeshift wood heater inside the cabin they were staying in.

Two weeks later a Penrith family of four were lucky to be alive when they suffered carbon monoxide poisoning from a barbecue they had brought inside to warm their apartment.

An elderly Surry Hills woman also brought her barbecue inside her home and was found by neighbours before being taken to hospital.

Supt Cooper stressed the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and the rapid rate it can overpower unsuspecting victims. “One or two breaths of carbon monoxide will render you unconscious and any further exposure will result in death,” he said “Carbon monoxide is odourless and colourless. You can’t see it and you can’t smell it. But once it affects you, you very rarely live to tell the tale.”

He said many people wouldn’t have seen the media coverage on the dangers and called on everyone to share the information with family and friends who might otherwise not know.

Neighbour finds elderly woman suffering carbon monoxide poisoning in Surry Hills

Firefighters have praised the efforts of a man who went to check on his elderly neighbour and found she was suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning after using an outdoor heater inside her apartment.

The man potentially saved the life of the 84-year-old woman, who was conscious but unable to communicate when he found her inside her Surry Hills home on Thursday evening.

It is the latest in a string of cases of carbon monoxide poisoning around Sydney this month, and comes in the week that firefighters issued an urgent warning about the lethal danger posed by using outdoor heaters inside.

Earlier this week, a family of four from Penrith suffered carbon monoxide poisoning when they fell asleep around an outdoor charcoal heater which they had dragged into their living room.

On the weekend, four people were taken to hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning after using barbecue coals to heat their Bankstown unit.

A couple died on a weekend camping trip to Kurrajong at the start of the month.

Superintendent Paul Johnstone, from Fire and Rescue NSW, said emergency services were called to the Surry Hills unit about 7pm on Thursday to find the elderly woman quite ill.

"She was conscious although she was having trouble talking to people and communicating," he said.

"She was using one of those outdoor-type heaters internally for heating purposes. These give off carbon monoxide. Even with the door being opened, the levels [of carbon monoxide] inside were still very elevated and dangerous to a person's health, and possibly life threatening."

The woman was taken to hospital for treatment.

Fire and Rescue NSW has again repeated its warning for people to avoiding using outside cooking appliances and heaters indoors, especially in enclosed spaces where there is no ventilation.

Carbon monoxide is an odourless, colourless gas that can build up indoors when fuel is burning and there is inadequate ventilation.

When carbon monoxide is inhaled, it attaches itself to a substance called haemoglobin, which would otherwise carry oxygen around the body. Instead of delivering oxygen to the parts of the body that needed it to survive, the haemoglobin delivers potentially deadly carbon monoxide.

Penrith family nearly dead after carbon monoxide poisoning from charcoal barbecue used inside

A PENRITH family of four are recovering in hospital after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning from a barbecue that had been lit indoors to warm the family home.

It is understood the father woke up early this morning to find his wife and two teenage children unconscious in the living room of their apartment.

The family appeared to be warming up the room they were sleeping in with a rudimentary charcoal barbecue.

Paramedics were called to the family home on Lethbridge st, Penrith, in the early house of the morning. All four members of the family were admitted to Nepean Hospital, with the mother and two children in a serious condition. Both the mother and father have now been discharged and their two children are in a very stable condition, a spokeswoman for Nepean hospital said. The children are expected to be discharged this morning.

According to emergency services, the apartment did not have a working smoke alarm which would have been set off by a barbecue in the living room.

Electric shutters still covered all windows of the ground floor apartment this morning, and the small picnic barbecue still containing charcoal ashes sat outside.

Employees of the medical practice next door, Amy Carpenter and Karen Leishman, said they were shocked to find out their long time neighbours had resorted to such dangerous methods to heat their home.

They said they knew the family well and described them as polite and “absolutely lovely.”

“They’ve lived in the apartment a very long time. We’ve watched the children grow up since they were babies,” said one woman from the practice. “Perhaps they were naive and didn’t realise how dangerous it was,” she said.

A spokeswoman for the hospital said the family had all now been discharged. Supt Cooper said: “Anything that’s designed to be used outdoors, should be left outdoors”. He added this includes anything that burns solid wood, coal or gas.

In the past two weeks alone, 13 people have required hospital treatment after burning such things indoors, according to the NSW Poisons Information Centre.

Just two weeks ago, a young Sydney couple were killed in Kurrajong from bringing a makeshift wood-fire heater indoors, while four people from Bankstown were also hospitalised on Monday from an outdoor heater.


* It’s emitted from anything that burns solid wood, coal, or gas

* Is colourless and odourless

* It can build up in your blood stream over time

* Do not bring indoors any heaters or burners designed for use outside

* Symptoms can include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness and getting a red glow

*  If you feel unwell, get some fresh air

Supt Cooper says there’s an increase of this sort of behaviour in the colder months.

“One or two breaths of carbon monoxide will render you unconscious and any further exposure will result in death,” he said.

“Carbon monoxide is odourless and colourless. You can’t see it and you can’t smell it. But once it affects you, you very rarely live to tell the tale.”

Mother and two children rushed to hospital with serious carbon monoxide poisoning

A young family is lucky to be alive after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning from bringing an outdoor charcoal burner into their living room. Paramedics were called to an apartment on Lethbridge Street in Penrith, west of Sydney, just after 1am on Tuesday to reports a child was unconscious.

Fire & Rescue Superintendent Tom Cooper said two adults and two children had dragged a charcoal burner into the lounge room and gone to sleep around it. 'We got a call from the Ambulance service because the doctor who looked at them realised what was wrong and suspected a gas leak'. But closer inspection revealed a BBQ burner had been brought inside the apartment to keep the family warm. 

The father drove the mother and two children to Nepean Hospital where they are being treated for serious carbon monoxide poisoning.

Supt Cooper said there wasn't a working smoke detector in the unit and the family were very 'lucky'. He said people need to be reminded about the dangers of using barbecue beads inside a house. 

It comes after four people from Bankstown were hospitalised on Monday after bringing an outdoor heater indoors. Just two weeks ago a young Sydney couple died at a semi-rural property at Kurrajong after they were overcome by carbon monoxide gas from a makeshift wood-fire heater. Helena Curic and Derek Kehler died while they slept in a makeshift cabin.

Young couple poisoned by carbon monoxide as they slept

The family and friends of a young couple who were poisoned by carbon monoxide as they slept in a makeshift cabin north-west of Sydney have shared outpourings of grief.Derek Kehler, 32, and Helena Curic, 31, are believed to have suffocated in their sleep as a woodchip fire burnt through the night in the converted shipping container on what was meant to be an idyllic long weekend with family.

"When they first moved to Sydney, they said it was just for a few months," Mr Kehler's friend and former flatmate, Zach Gray, told CBC News in Canada.

"But we all kind of knew that was just a pretense, and what was really happening was that they had found each other and they were riding off into the sunset together."

The couple, who met in Canada, are believed to have suffocated in their sleep as a woodchip fire burnt through the night in the converted shipping container on what was meant to be an idyllic long weekend with family.

About 7.30am on Monday, Helena's sister Natalie, who was staying in a neighbouring cabin, found the couple as they lay in the cabin on the Kurrajong property, about 75 kilometres north-west of Sydney.

She called for help, but paramedics could not revive them.

Mr Gray said Mr Kehler, a musician who used the name Steel Audrey, had performed "old-style, Johnny Cash-style country music about love and death and loneliness and heartbreak".

"It's music you can sort of lean against when things are hard, and that's why we've been listening to his music so much in the last couple of days," he said.

"It's kind of equally comforting and heartbreaking that there's so much of him in his own songs.

"He was such an easy guy to have around, because he's such a seize-the-day kind of person.

"He had a really loud laugh and he used it all the time, at himself more than anyone. He also had a kind of depth and loyalty to him."

Mr Gray described Ms Curic, a marketing and design manager at a Sydney graphic design company, as funny and brilliant.

"She just charmed us all immediately," he said.

Derek's mother posted a photo of her son to her Facebook page hours after the tragic deaths.

"Always in my heart xx," she posted from her home in Manitoba, Canada.

Police are preparing a report for the coroner.

Department of Housing tenant poisoned by CO in NSW

Caroline Merkel and her son have have been living in the same public housing home for almost 25 years and in all that time the gas heater had never been serviced. After feeling unwell and noticing the CO awareness campaign on TV, Caroline called the public housing office several times for her heater to be serviced. Finally when the heater was serviced, the plumber recorded three times the normal level of carbon monoxide in her home and removed the heater. They are extremely lucky to be alive!

The news article stipulated that the DoH would not discuss the policy regarding the servicing of gas heaters with the reporter. The Chase and Tyler Foundation Founder, Vanessa Robinson, had a meeting with Minister for Housing on the 01/11/13 regarding the gas heater servicing policy. It was advised that when the Labour Party was in office, they had no idea which public housing properties had gas heaters. Hence, once an audit was conducted on all properties, the department MAY service these gas appliances afterwards. It was the normal political spin which missed the point of looking after the safety and welfare of our community members.

The Chase and Tyler Foundation were advised by an official government department that the Department of Family and Community Services policy on this is to service gas appliances in public housing properties once every 5 years!!! That is such a huge risk to the public and frankly quite appalling.

If you are in government housing and you don’t know the last time your gas heater was serviced, (if it hasn't been serviced in the last two years) pick up the phone TODAY and demand that is it done!!

Launch of the New CO Awareness TV Commercial

Victoria's Energy Minister, Lily D'Ambrosio, joined Energy Safe Victoria at Northland to launch the new carbon monoxide awareness ad. She joined sisters Madeleine and Bridget to check out the colorful slipper socks ESV were giving away as part of the launch.

~A story from one of our community members~

My name is Michelle Weir and I feel that I need to share my story with everybody to help raise the awareness of carbon monoxide poisoning. In 2014, my two children, husband and I were renting a property for four months.

During this period, on a Wednesday I was at home all morning with my daughter doing my weekly routine of cleaning, washing etc. I had noticed a weird gassy kind of smell in the house, but I wasn't sure if it was just my nose playing tricks on me. As the hours passed, I was unsure if I was smelling gas or it was just my imagination. We later became slightly disorientated and nauseous.

I went to pick my son up from school and drop my daughter at dancing, though due to my concern I called my husband to tell him how I was feeling. We thought to be on the safe side, we'd call the emergency number. I started to feel a little better since I left the property.

Later that evening, an emergency plumber arrived and conducted various tests throughout our home. He advised us that there were four gas leaks located inside and outside of our home. He looked at me and said 'if you all went to bed tonight, no one would have survived'. My heart stopped as all I could think about were my two babies. I will never forget those words for as long as I live.

We quickly packed our bags and rang the hospital who advised us to get tests done because I was so worried for my kids. We had to move into my mother’s house as we had nowhere else to go.

The real estate were appalling in their lack of concern or care. They did not ask if my family were OK, about our accommodation arrangements, nor understood how close we all came to dying. I asked twice for a copy of the plumbers report and it was refused. The real estate later advised me that they and the landlord are not accountable, nor at fault. Due to this negligence and the fact that my son was now terrified of the house, we decided to look for a new rental property with a new real estate agent.

I am happy to say that we are now in a new rental property. We have made sure that all gas burning appliances have been serviced and we have also installed a carbon monoxide alarm. We wouldn’t live in a house without one anymore.

Thank you for letting me share my story.

5 year anniversary of the death of my two children

Tomorrow is the 5 year anniversary of the death of my two children Chase and Tyler who were only 8 & 6 years old. The killer? A gas heater in our rental property in Mooroopna, Victoria.

To bring home the message of fuel burning appliance safety to all community members, ESV have launched a new harder hitting carbon monoxide TV commercial. This campaign is all about reminding community members not to be complacent about servicing and how easy it is to fall victim to the silent killer.

You will see the commercial on TV from Sunday night and in cinemas from today. Please share to remind family and friends of the need to get all gas heaters serviced a minimum of every two years to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Winners of Competition Announced

Congratulations to the -7- winners for this years Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week competition. You have all won an audible First Alert carbon monoxide alarm valued at $60.00 each.

~Tracey LeMaistre
~Angela Hogan
~Gayle Ward
~Corey Arthur
~Manda J Opray
~Misty Tantucz
~Sarah McLachlan

Please contact the page with your mailing address, for your alarm (and other little goodies) to be sent out via express post this week.

Note: There will be other carbon monoxide alarms given away throughout the winter month, so please keep checking in with the page.

Shepparton Sunrisers Donation

Thank you to the Kiwanis Club of Shepparton Sunrisers for the donation of over a $1,000 to The Chase and Tyler Foundation. We will be putting this money towards supporting vulnerable community members with the purchase and instillation of carbon monoxide alarms.
The Kiwanis are such an inspirational club, and are always looking to support and improve our communities in whatever way possible. If you want to become involved the Kiwanis Shepparton Sunrisers, please contact Paul Neal on 0400 215 744 or check out the main website at for a club in your area.

ABC Radio Interview

Early morning interview with Saturday Breakfast presenter, Greg Bayliss. After nearly 5 years of interviews I still shake and I always stress out that I will go completely blank (has happened before)! It all went well, apart from the fact that I may have babbled.......sigh!

Vanessa-returning to her bed!

Good Night Out or Carbon Monoxide?

Are you a student and living in a rental property? Student accommodation can be great fun, but have you thought about your safety?

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas which can kill quickly with no warning. Make sure that you know the symptoms - They might not just be the signs of a good night out!

Ask for your fuel burning appliances to be serviced at the minimum of once every two years.

CO Alarm Donation by RACV

I want to thank RACV and the Manager of the Shepparton branch Katrina Kim-Worley (an amazing & beautiful woman) for organising the donation of over 100+ carbon monoxide alarms to The Chase & Tyler Foundation.

The CO alarms will be donated to vulnerable people throughout Australia.

Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week - 2015

Today is the start of Australia's Carbon Monoxide Awareness week 2015.

This is Energy Safe Victoria's video that my ex husband and I appeared in after our two children, Chase and Tyler were killed from a faulty unserviced gas heater in our rental property, year 2010.

It is coming up 5 years on May 30 since the boys have been buried and every day feels as brutal as the first. Time has stood still for us ever since. I hope this week prompts everyone throughout the Australian community to take action when it comes to fuel burning appliance safety, so this horrific tragedy doesn't happen to your family.

Much love and keep safe, Vanessa ~Chase & Tyler's mum

Win a Carbon Monoxide Alarm!


During 'Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week' 27 April - 3 May 2015, we are giving away 7 carbon monoxide alarms each day to our lucky supporters.

To be entered into the draw to win a carbon monoxide alarm, you need to answer the following questions via this post or on our Facebook wall.

Question 1)
-Why is it so important to service your fuel burning appliances?

Question 2)
-Have you had your fuel burning appliance serviced and if so, when?

Use the 'share' button underneath so your friends and family also have a chance to win!

All winners will be announced on Monday the 4th of May at 8:00pm via our FB page.