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Sidcup pensioners saved by gas leak alarm

15:05 12 April 2012

Den Johnson

Den Johnson

Archant

Couple spot symptoms and buy carbon monoxide detector

An elderly couple survived potentially fatal carbon monoxide poisoning after spotting their symptoms and buying a lifesaving detector alarm.

Den Johnson, 82, and his wife Gladys, who was 79 on Tuesday, had been feeling unwell and experiencing headaches and nausea at their home in Shirley Road, Sidcup.

The symptoms can easily be confused with a cold or flu but the couple decided to fit a carbon monoxide alarm which reacted on Good Friday afternoon.

Known as the “silent killer”, about 50 people a year die from the gas.

Alongside firefighters who attended the incident, the couple are hoping to raise awareness and encourage others to fit the alarm.

Mr Johnson, who has lived in the same house for 56 years, said: “We put the alarm on the kitchen cupboard and it reacted furiously.

“It affected my wife more than me because she has an irregular heartbeat and it’s a wonder it didn’t kill her the first time.”

Sidcup fire station watch manager Neil Fox said their children were also paying a visit to the house on Good Friday and helped recognise the symptoms.

He said: “If they had not had the alarm and recognised the signs of poisoning it could have been fatal.”

Firefighters turned up to ventilate the house and turn off the gas.

The couple were treated at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, for carbon monoxide poisoning, before being allowed home on Friday night.

An ambulance, police car and a gas board van also attended the scene, blocking off the narrow road for two hours.

Watch manager Fox said: “We’d like to get the message out that it’s very important to fit carbon monoxide alarms.”

He said it was also important to get gas equipment fitted properly and checked.

The cause of the leak is being investigated.

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