A woman who was taking extra care to super clean her home found herself in a deadly situation when she accidentally created a dangerous chemical mixture while mopping her kitchen floor.
Charley Howson of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, mixed bleach, Dettol and Zoflora disinfectant into a mop bucket with hot water. She began to experience chest pains shortly thereafter and believed she was having a heart attack.
Howson suffers from a muscle-wasting condition called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and her 15-year-old son, Corey, called for an ambulance. She was given oxygen by paramedics and rushed to the hospital, as she explained, “The pain got worse and worse, I thought I was having a heart attack. I’ve had a collapsed lung before, and it felt a bit like that.”
She added, “Corey was terrified because he thought I was getting ill [from my condition] again, as I’ve had periods of six months where I’ve been in a wheelchair. I was petrified, I didn’t know what was happening, and just kept thinking about my kids.”
Howson explained how the doctor began asking her about the mopping solution, noting, “The doctor asked if I had been cleaning, because the paramedics mentioned a strong smell of bleach. He said mixing those chemicals with the hot water had given me chlorine gas poisoning. I was stunned, I couldn’t believe it.”
She added, “He said that it happens far more than you’d think. He said if my son hadn’t phoned for the ambulance when he did that it could have been a lot worse. He’s really mature for his age, and I’m so grateful he didn’t listen to me when I said I was fine.”
Howson said that her dangerous mix resulted in a headache and sore throat and explained that her son “made a joke out of it and calls me the ‘chlorine gaffe girl’ and says I should leave the cleaning to the professionals.” She added, “But it could have been so much worse. I could not be here. It could have killed me.”
Howson was released from the hospital and will return for a follow up. She wanted to share her story, she said, “to warn people,” explaining, “Everything I used were just normal cleaning products that you can get from Asda. I didn’t read the small print on the bottles, but no one does really, and I just want everyone to make sure they do when they’re cleaning.”
People weighed in in the comments section of the Daily Mail’s coverage of this story, with one stressing the importance of reading labels: “And this is why the instructions on the packaging always say ‘don’t mix together household chemicals.’ It’s there for a reason, folks.”
Another commenter shared a similar experience, writing: “Recall something like this happening at a food factory I used to work at. A guy cleaning his department ran out of the usual chemical so decided to use a substitute chemical. He had all the doors open and the place acted as a wind tunnel. He was very impressed with the work he had done but was totally oblivious to the group of women on the shop floor fainting and being sick. Nowadays it would be seen as a major H&S incident, in them days (80’s) he was just told off.”