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Seven people treated after toxic gas drama at Sandbanks Hotel
A HOTEL was evacuated and seven people treated by paramedics after a toxic gas incident in Poole on Friday morning.
The four-star Sandbanks Hotel on Banks Road was locked down for several hours followed the discovery of noxious chlorine gas around 10.45am.
A male member of staff who discovered the problem in the pool treatment room was overcome by the fumes, and six others in the vicinity, both staff and guests, also received medical attention.
Some 50 people were evacuated from the 108-room hotel, and police put a 60m cordon in place while specialist hazardous materials firefighters using gas tight suits and breathing apparatus worked to make the building safe. The beach and the road around the hotel were also cordoned off for a time.
Three engines and several support vehicles as well as some 20 firefighers dealt with the incident. Paramedics were also at the scene to treat those suffering nausea and disorientation as a result of inhaling the fumes.
Hazmat officer Richard Jones told the Echo at the scene that two chemicals – sodium hypochlorite and sodium bisulphate – had mixed together creating a small amount of the potentially harmful chlorine gas.
He said: “Chorine is a toxic gas which is heavier than air so it stays low but obviously, if you inhale it, it is toxic to you.
“The gentleman who opened the door and first smelled it was obviously was feeling the effects of it and was treated by the ambulance service, and some other people in the vicinity reported feeling the effects a little bit – nausea, disorientation – but they were all treated by the ambulance service at the scene.”
He added: “We entered the building and made it safe by isolating the two chemicals and ventilating. The beach side of the hotel was evacuated and cordoned off by police to allow us to ventilate.”
He added that as the heavy chlorine gas was found in the basement it was unlikely to have spread to the upper floors.
FJB hotels group operations manager Martin Taylor said: “As soon as we discovered that something was not right the alarm was sounded and there was a full evacuation. At this moment we don’t have a lot of guests – maybe 30 guests in total overnight.”
The hotel was declared safe and reopened to staff and guests shortly before 1.20pm.
The hazards of chlorine
At room temperature, chlorine is a gas. It has a yellow-green color, and a pungent, irritating odor similar to bleach.
When it enters the body through breathing, swallowing or skin contact it reacts with water, producing acids which are corrosive and damaging.
Affects can include difficulty breathing, throat pain, nausea, headaches and eye and skin irritation.
The acids are corrosive and damage cells in the body on contact.
What are the immediate health effects of chlorine exposure?
Most harmful chlorine exposures are the result of inhalation.
Health effects typically begin within seconds to minutes. Following chlorine exposure, the most common symptoms are:
- Airway irritation
- Difficulty breathing
- Sore throat
- Chest tightness
- Eye irritation
- Skin irritation
The severity of health effects depend upon the route of exposure, the dose and the duration of exposure to chlorine.
Breathing high levels of chlorine causes fluid build-up in the lungs, a condition known as pulmonary edema.
The development of pulmonary edema may be delayed for several hours after exposure to chlorine.
Contact with compressed liquid chlorine may cause frostbite of the skin and eyes.