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Monday 17 December 2018

Young family of 10 narrowly escapes tragedy after number fall ill with suspected carbon monoxide poisoning

Colman and Priscilla Sherlock at home in Lisdoonvarna with their Children, Colman, Martin,Priscilla, Kathleen, Miko, Corina, Nicola and Evan who narrowly avoided Carbon Monoxide poisioning. Photograph by Eamon ward
Colman and Priscilla Sherlock at home in Lisdoonvarna with their Children, Colman, Martin,Priscilla, Kathleen, Miko, Corina, Nicola and Evan who narrowly avoided Carbon Monoxide poisioning. Photograph by Eamon ward
The house was not equipped with a carbon monoxide alarm

Gordon Deegan

A young family of 10 narrowly escaped tragedy at the weekend after a number fell ill with suspected carbon monoxide poisoning at a Clare County Council leased property.

Shortly after 4am on Saturday morning, the Ambulance Service made contact with colleagues at the regional emergency call centre with the message: “Possible Carbon Monoxide - one child passed out and four patients short of breath”.

Next door neighbour of the Sherlock family at the Glenbreadain estate in the north Clare town of Lisdoonvarna, Sean Noonan, said today: “Only for young Evan waking up feeling sick in the middle of the night, all of this young family would be dead today.”

Mr Noonan raised the alarm after he found Coleman Sherlock and his unconscious son, Evan (13) slumped outside his front door.

Mr Noonan said that the children’s mother, Priscilla was leaning against the Sherlock front door. He recalled: “She was in a bad way.”

The Sherlocks only moved into the Council-long term leased house last summer and it was not equipped with a carbon monoxide alarm. Council staff arrived at the home on Saturday evening to install carbon monoxide alarms.

Recalling the near tragedy, Coleman said that he heard Evan getting up in the middle of night.

He said: “Evan told me ‘I feel sick. I can’t breathe.” Evan tried to open up a window, but he then collapsed. I grabbed him and brought him outside. When I saw Priscilla coming to the door and puking, I knew there was something wrong in the house and all the kids had to get out of there.”

Priscilla and Coleman had been earlier watching ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ with a number of their sons downstairs and they all fell unconscious in the sitting room where there was a fire burning in the open fireplace.

The Sherlock girls, Carina (14), Nicole (11), Priscilla (10) and Kathleen (9) were all sleeping upstairs.

The girls and the remaining boys, Martin (8), Coleman (4) and Miko, who will turn two in January, were brought next door to Mr Noonan’s home after the alarm was raised before being brought to University Hospital Limerick (UHL) by ambulance. They were all released on Saturday afternoon after getting the all-clear.

Two fire appliances along with Gardai and the ambulance service had earlier attended the incident at the Sherlock home.

According to Clare Co Council after all windows were opened ventilating the house and following an inspection with a gas monitor, it was deemed safe to enter temporarily, and personnel were allowed in under the management of the Fire Service to gather belongings.

The house was then secured by the Gardai to allow an investigation be carried out as to the cause of the incident.

Coleman said on Monday: “We were blessed and very lucky. We could all have died. Evan could barely talk. He was pure pale. Martin had gone snow white and Coleman was very pale as well.

“Carbon monoxide is a silent killer and every house should have an alarm installed.”

Recalling the incident, Priscilla said that she was feeling very dizzy and sick when she woke up. She said: “Coleman was saying to Evan ‘please don’t die’. He was pure weak. I couldn’t move. Sean next door had to hold me up.”

Priscilla said: “I have been having nightmares over what could have happened We could all have died.”

Fifty one year old grand-father, Mr Noonan today described the Sherlocks as “a lovely, lovely family. They do nothing but help me out here and Coleman calls in for cups of tea for a chat and making sure everything is fine. They are the best neighbours I have ever had.”

A spokesman for Clare Co Council said that Carbon Monoxide alarms are installed in all Council properties undergoing refurbishment workings.

He said that this requirement was introduced in 2017 under the Housing( Standards for Rented Dwellings) Regulations 2017.

However, the spokesman added: “The onus is on occupants themselves to have carbon monoxide alarms installed where refurbishment works have not yet taken place.”

He said that any tenants who require assistance with installing such alarms or have any queries may contact the Council’s Housing section.

He said that there is a programme to retrofit carbon monoxide alarms in all council owned stock as part of the Planned Maintenance Programme.

The spokesman issued a fresh warning to householders to be aware of the dangers of the build up over Carbon Monoxide build up in the home.

He said: “Measures can be taken to prevent CO problems. One such action is the installation of a CO alarm to detect potentially deadly conditions. Householders should also make sure that all fuel burning appliances and heating devices are properly vented and maintained, while knowing the symptoms of CO poisoning is important.”.

The Council has advised the Sherlocks for now not to use the open fireplace at their home in the meantime and instead, use the oil burning system installed in the property.

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