Our latest purchase for the boat are CO Alarms (Carbon Monoxide)... oh I know it's a bit premature but they're something we DON'T want to forget about. Why? - well because a couple of years ago, Andy and I ended up in hospital during a summer camping trip (on my birthday as it happens) due to use of a camping gas heater in the tent.
Totally self inflicted but I'd had said heater (and used it safely more times than I can remember) for over 10 years... inside a well ventilated tent. SCHOOL boy error that last time was new tent... more "weather proof" - less ventilation and too much wine to think straight.
We zipped up the tent (30ft x 8 ft) about 9pm and watched Skyfall on the laptop, finishing off the box of wine we'd started earlier.. it's odd, but I took a photo at the time - with no idea I'd be writing about it a couple of years later:
There was a distinct chill in the air - despite it being early June, so we thought we'd leave the fire on in the centre of the tent and retire for the night...
About 6am I woke up needing the loo and noticed the flame on the fire was flickering and looked odd -So I turned it off thinking "bugger, the gas is nearly out - 'hope there's enough left to cook breakfast"....
Andy got up about 8 and went into the other bedroom (read camping toilet) and shortly after that I heard a "thump" and on investigating found aforementioned partner, unconscious on the floor near the loo.
Bit of a panic (well lot of a panic actually) trying to call an ambulance but no phone signal - something clicked in my brain about the fire so I dragged him outside as quickly as possible... feeling a bit rough myself but presuming it was hangover. Other half put in recovery position and me running around the riverside trying to get a phone signal - when eventually found, 999 dialled only to find estimated time before ambulance would arrive was about 1 hour... ( I later found out there had been industrial action over something). On return, he'd come around enough to talk but looked terrible and was crying like a banshee.
SO - into car, windows, sunroof open and speedy drive to the nearest A and E I could think of (Friarage hospital in Northallerton) - all a bit vague from there as I just about passed out in the car park and the next thing I remember was waking up on a trolley with hi flow oxygen being pumped. Andy was very poorly - me being 2 stone heavier, I could absorb more with least effect if you follow... there was some talk about him being sent to hull for the decompression chamber...We were both sent off to cdu a while later (still on hi flow) and spent the night being checked every hour or so.
Luckily for us, by noon the next day, the doc came and said we could go home and discharged us to the care of our gp. No noticeable lasting issues other than memory problems but that could be down to age anyway.
SINCE then - as you might imagine, we've got alarms in the camping gear, take one with us on hire boats and have 2 in the house. I doubt we would be so lucky again.... also, we never camp or moor in a place with no phone signal... or without noting the address (part of the panic was not knowing the post code of the camp site) or bridge nearest bridge number / gps data. It's out plan to have a little chalk board at the back of the boat and intend to record out position every night when we moor up.
All in all a scary, humbling experience and one of those times when you realise first hand, how fragile we all are.
If you've not got a CO and smoke alarm, then get them and test them regularly folks - they could be all that's between YOU and the grim reaper!
Until next time...