Jane Bainbridge is speaking out about her most painful memories to bring attention to the very real dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning after the death of her husband, Chris. The couple were frequent travellers and campers, and were visiting a campsite they had been to tens of times before. They were staying in an upmarket wooden 'pod' rather than a tent, at The Quiet Site, a campsite near Ullswater. They were in good spirits and had planned to have a relaxing night with each other and a small barbecue, which they lit and set up just outside of their pod. Within hours, the small portable charcoal barbecue had poisoned both of them with carbon monoxide and killed Chris, leaving Jane's life changed forever. The most frightening part of it is that Jane can barely remember the last evening she spent with her husband, due to the effects of the lethal poison.
Jane recalls a toilet trip before she collapsed, saying: "I visited the site’s toilets. I was bouncing off the walls. I felt absolutely wrecked. Coming out I lost my footing and staggered several metres towards a caravan and had to stop myself falling by putting both hands on it. At that point, I realised something was desperately wrong and began to panic." When she arrived back to their pod, she remembers finding Chris slumped in the corner and a feeling of panic as she realised something was very wrong, but she collapsed herself within minutes. After police took the couple's phones as evidence, they found snaps of the pair around the barbecue smiling and raising a toast, but spookily, if you zoom in on the couple's eyes, the effects of the carbon monoxide have already become clear. Jane's memory was triggered by the photo, and she remembers bringing the bbq inside but can't remember why.
The couple weren't found for 72 hours, after colleagues raised the alarm when neither of them turned up to work on Monday: "Every time I hear the words “72 hours” I feel sick to my stomach. We lay there all that time and nobody missed us. It sounds like a cliche but I’ve lost my best friend. It was like losing a limb. I’m not the person I was. But I’ve never thought I was a victim. Chris was the victim, I’m still here." Jane was discovered barely conscious, hypothermic and near-paralysed and has suffered from PTSD since the incident and spending ten days in hospital. Most of her muscles had collapsed, she had peripheral neuropathy (severe nerve damage) from lying in the same position for so long and her hair fell out due to shock. Jane urges people to think carefully about the way they BBQ this summer, and want to raise attention to the fact that a barbecue in any enclosed space if potentially fatal. Carbon monoxide is colourless, odourless and tasteless but can cause brain damage or even kill before victims realise anything is wrong. Always burn wood or coal in well ventilated areas.