Dead kittyOf Cats and Canaries

Well into the 20th Century Canary birds were used in mines by Coal miners to detect the poisonous gas carbon monoxide.  Because of their size and physiology Canaries are much more sensitive to the toxic effects of carbon monoxide than humans. So, walking in the mine the miner knew that if the bird fell of the perch of its small cage it was time to make a quick exit.

This rather cruel gas detection technique was replaced by technology in the 1980’s, however it turns out that other animals are still being used to this day…

Cats. Yes that’s right, cats

A little known fact that cats have been used (sort of) to detect carbon monoxide levels in the laundry rooms of care homes. How do I know?

Well recently a laundry engineer of 20 years and I were discussing Gas Safe issues and he told me of his experience of doing gas checks in care homes.

The story goes as follows. Any cat lover will know that cats, stray or otherwise, have a tendency to find out free food and warm comfortable places to sleep. So, ‘care home cats’ once treated by staff or residents to food treats, what better place than spending the afternoon in the care home laundry room?

But here’s the problem. Over 20 years our engineer has reported the unexplained deaths of as many cats in care home’s laundry rooms. Why? You guessed it, carbon monoxide poisoning in poorly ventilated laundry rooms containing gas-powered driers. When staff have reported experiencing unexplained headaches, generally feeling unwell, poor kitty has paid the ultimate price. Coincidentally our engineer found time and time again serious unsafe ventilation issues in the laundry rooms.

Apocryphal? Possibly.
Plausible? Certainly.
Are there carbon monoxide and unsafe ventilation practices in too many care homes, putting staff in danger? Without a doubt!

What’s the solution?

-          Make sure the drier and ventilation points are designed and fitted properly by a qualified engineer

-          Don’t block off the ventilation points, under any circumstances.

-          Regularly service driers

-          Have regular Gas Safe checks

-          Install a Carbon Monoxide alarm

-          Keep an eye on your cat!

If you want more advice on remaining safe or other laundry product advice contact us on 0115 9613720. or