YOUNGSTERS from a Barry primary school have joined forces with a theatre company to help tackle a silent killer and save lives across South Wales.
Live performances by a professional theatre company Theatr Na nÓg have brought Barry Island primary pupils on board to assist.
Gas distribution business Wales & West Utilities has partnered with Theatr Na nÓg to take ‘A Breath of Fresh Air’, which is a mixture of drama and storytelling, to schools across the company’s network.
It focuses on the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, and pupils at the school have been asked to take the message home to parents, grandparents and carers.
Carbon monoxide is known as ‘the silent killer’ as the poisonous gas can be emitted by faulty appliances powered by gas or any other fuel that burns. It’s colourless, odourless and tasteless, but is highly poisonous and causes around 40 fatalities in the UK every year.
The poignant live theatre performance to Barry Island Primary School – part of Wales & West Utilities’ ongoing safety campaign – is one of the many schools visited during an eight-week tour that focuses on schools in areas that have been identified as being at particular risk of CO incidents.
Corporate affairs manager, Jaime Falarczyk said: “We needed to get across a hard-hitting message about the dangers of CO poisoning, but in a way that would engage such a young audience. Theatr Na nÓg has come up with the solution with this series of theatre performances, which are being held in schools across our network.
“Anyone can be affected by CO poisoning, though young children, students and older people are most at risk. This play was created to target pupils in years 5 and 6, and an invitation to the performance was also extended to grandparents.
Barry Island primary school teacher, Aled Williams added: “It is difficult to get younger children to understand risks such as CO poisoning, but this show has a formula that really works in an engaging way.”
Symptoms of CO poisoning are flu-like but without the high temperature. They include breathlessness and chest or stomach pains. People can feel tired or drowsy and may start behaving erratically, complaining of giddiness and headaches with nausea and vomiting, and possibly visual problems. If immediate action is not taken, the consequences can be fatal.
To protect against the risks of CO poisoning, an audible CO alarm can be installed.
It is also very important to have an annual service of all appliances that burn any fuel – gas, coal, oil, petrol or wood, and to sweep chimneys and flues regularly.
Landlords are legally obliged to arrange annual gas safety checks in tenanted properties.
Visible signs CO may be present include gas appliances burning with a lazy yellow or orange flame instead of being crisp and blue and increased condensation on windows.
Pilot lights may blow out frequently, and soot or yellowy brown staining may be seen on or around appliances.
If you suspect CO poisoning, turn appliances off and open doors and windows to ventilate the area.
Get everyone outside into fresh air immediately and call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999.