independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

‘Sixth sense’ mum flees from gas leak flat with daughter

Susan O’Connell and her daughter Shauna

THIS is the mum whose ‘sixth sense’ saved two lives during a suspected carbon-monoxide leak.

Susan O’Connell (35) said she is “petrified” of returning to her former home and said she will live in a caravan until she is offered a new apartment.

She said “something was definitely wrong” when she awoke in her Carrigaline, Co Cork, flat with multiple smoke alarms going off but couldn’t locate any trace of a fire.

Ms O’Connell immediately took her daughter Shauna (8) out of the property to spend the night at her parents’ home.

“I jumped out of bed when all the alarms went off at 5am. I was not using my gas but I checked everything including the cooker but there was no sign of a fire or any smoke in the flat,” she said.

When she awoke the following day, both she and her daughter had splitting headaches and felt nauseous. They attended a GP who referred them to Cork University Hospital (CUH) where doctors discovered an elevated level of carbon-monoxide in their bloodstreams.

“Blood tests there showed we both had carbon monoxide in our systems. Shauna was not too bad but my levels were particularly high,” said Ms O’Connell.

MIGRAINES

“When I moved into the flat four years ago, I started getting migraines which gradually became worse. I had various scans and even an MRI which showed up nothing.

“But since I left the flat last August the headaches have gone. I believe there was gas seeping in all the time that affected me.”

After attending CUH, both Ms O’Connell and her daughter were placed on oxygen for 24 hours.

She reported the incident to Cork County Council — which owns the estate involved — and their investigation revealed a chimney lining had cracked.

Full repairs have now been completed and Susan said she has been assured by the council that the flat is safe to return to.

“All I am asking is that the council rehouse us in other accommodation in the same estate. I am genuinely frightened to return,” she said.

Ms O’Connell insisted she will continue to live with her daughter in the caravan beside her parents’ house until the council agree to a transfer compromise.

The council said it does not comment on individual cases.

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