Last week the All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group (APPCOG) brought together Festival Republic, the Association of Independent Festivals, the energy industry, and campaign groups to discuss how they can protect festivalgoers from the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) gas.

The parliamentary discussion was chaired by APPCOG officer Alex Cunningham MP, and is part of the APPCOG’s larger efforts to raise awareness of CO poisoning. CO is an invisible, odourless and tasteless toxic gas produced when carbon-containing fuels burn incompletely. This “silent killer” causes approximately 30 deaths and 200 hospital admissions in England and Wales each year, and high-level exposure can result in death in minutes.

Unaware that both lit and extinguished BBQs can produce large amounts of deadly CO gas, 49 per cent of festivalgoers say they would use a BBQ inside their tent. To address this, the APPCOG recommends a multi-pronged strategy that directly reduces the risk of exposure and raises awareness of CO poisoning amongst festivalgoers.

Direct interventions on festival sites are vital in reducing the risk CO poses to festivalgoers’ health. The APPCOG encourages festival providers to train their staff on the risk factors and symptoms of CO poisoning. Experts in attendance at the discussion also called on manufacturers to display more prominent safety warnings on disposable BBQ packaging, in order to prevent festivalgoers from taking BBQs inside tents and putting their lives at risk.

APPCOG stressed that it is essential that this campaign agrees on a clear and simple message to raise awareness within the festival industry. This message should also utilise a multi-media approach to reach festivalgoers including advertising on mobile phones, displaying CO information on festival apps, and using high-profile partners such as bands to engage festivalgoers.