Clerkenwell doctor: ‘Carbon monoxide alarm saved my life...It can save yours, too’

Carbon monoxide alarm plea: Dr Sophie Rigney

Carbon monoxide alarm plea: Dr Sophie Rigney - Credit: Archant

A Clerkenwell woman is today urging people to have carbon monoxide alarms fitted in their homes.

As “gas safety week” begins, Dr Sophie Rigney made the call after an alarm saved six lives in her flat complex.

At 1am on Tuesday, September 6, she and three friends were woken up by a carbon monoxide alarm sounding in her flat kitchen. They evacuated with their French Bulldog, alerted neighbours and called the fire brigade.

Crews discovered the gas was coming from a restaurant beneath the property as coals had been left burning overnight. London Fire Brigade refused to name the restaurant, but said a fire safety audit had been carried out.

Dr Rigney said: “Carbon monoxide alarms are absolutely life saving and if it was not for ours, there would be six people dead.

“We were all pretty much in shock for the rest of the night. We were scared that if there had been a fire or someone had dropped a cigarette that the whole building could have gone up.”

In the days before the alarm sounded, Dr Rigney said she had experienced fatigue, dizziness and a metallic taste in her mouth – symptoms which she later discovered were linked to carbon monoxide poisoning.

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She added: “I would urge people to always make sure their carbon monoxide alarms are functioning and make sure they have a battery in. I had never heard of them before I came to the UK from Australia, but I am so grateful for those alarms now.”

Dr Rigney’s flat, rented from a private landlord, was fitted with the carbon monoxide alarm when she moved in earlier this year.

Mark Hazelton, the London Fire Brigade’s group manager for community safety, said: “We are really grateful to Dr Rigney coming forward to tell her story and we hope it will help save the lives of other people in London.

“Carbon monoxide is a silent killer, with least 50 deaths nationally recorded every year as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning. Despite this, the majority of people still do not have a carbon monoxide detector in their home.”