What happened to Neil Shepherd and Sharon Wood is a parent’s worst nightmare. Although nearly a decade has passed since six year old Robert Shepherd and seven year old Christianne died from carbon monoxide poisoning while on holiday in Corfu, the tragedy has yet again been brought back into the public eye following the conclusion of the inquest in Wakefield last week.
In the firing line - Thomas Cook, who although cleared of any responsibility at a criminal trial in Greece in 2010, was determined at the inquest to have had an inadequate health and safety audit.
Add to this the company’s lack of apology to the grief-stricken parents and the shock report over the weekend that it received £1.5m in a settlement from the owner of the hotel, Louis Group, (in stark contrast to what the family received in compensation) it’s a PR nightmare for the popular holiday firm. Yesterday afternoon though, the travel company looked to conduct some damage control by announcing that it had donated the £1.5m to UNICEF.
Litigation, rulings and the repercussions for Thomas Cook aside, the centre of the tragedy focuses on the loss of two innocent children and shifts to what we can do to prevent it happening again. Wakefield MP Mary Creagh who represents the family has called for a change in the law to put the onus on holiday firms to put carbon monoxide detectors in all rental cottages and villas.
If you would prefer to take it into your own hands though, there is also the option to buy a carbon monoxide alarm. According to www.london-fire.gov.uk you can, “Fit a CO alarm - available at a low cost from DIY stores, some supermarkets and direct from energy suppliers.
“When buying a CO alarm make sure it meets current British Standards or European safety standards.
“Look for alarms marked with the EN 50291 standard - this may be written as BS EN 50291 or EN 50291 - and that it has the CE mark on. Both of these markings should be visible on the packaging and product.”
It further adds, “Carbon monoxide alarms should be placed in rooms with fuel burning appliances, such as boilers in kitchens and fires in the lounge.
“Follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding positioning, testing and replace the alarm.
- Ensure your home has enough ventilation and airbricks are not blocked
- Keep chimney flues free from blockages
- Never use a purpose-built or disposable barbecue indoors”
This Kidde 10-year Carbon Monoxide Alarm costs only £17.99 from www.homebase.co.uk and there’s a huge selection available on the high street as well to help protect yourself and your family against this silent killer and stop any such tragedy from ever occurring again.