A woman has described the terrifying moment she accidentally made chlorine gas while cleaning her flat and was rushed to hospital after nearly poisoning herself.
Emma Welsh was preparing to move out of her home in Birmingham, UK, when she realised she had made a terrible mistake. Determined to get her A$2,000 deposit back, the 30-year-old decided not to pay for the estimated $400 cleaning fee — opting to do it herself.
Wiping down the radiator, Emma — who mixed bleach and malt vinegar to remove stubborn stains — noticed the cotton pads she was using had turned bright orange. Horrified, she also began to smell fumes and turned to the internet for help.
“I Googled it on my phone and that’s when I realised I’d accidentally created chlorine gas,” Kate, a writer, from Scotland, told WhatsTheJam.com. “I knew I’d f***ked up because I was starting to smell fumes and wondered why the colour had appeared.
“The whole thing was so ridiculous, as I was just about finished cleaning the flat and had opened a beer to relax. The advice was to get away from the gas as soon as possible.”
Gas leaves woman with burning throat
As reported by Healthline, when bleach and vinegar are mixed, it can create potentially lethal chlorine gas.
“I grabbed my cat, opened the balcony window to let some fresh air in, and told my friend, who found it hilarious but agreed I should call 111,” Emma said.
“At this point, my throat was burning, so I was glad I’d decided to be safe rather than sorry. The woman on the phone was really nice but concerned because chlorine gas can be so dangerous. I then got a callback and was advised to go to A&E.”
The incident occurred place around 11pm, with Emma rushing to the hospital shortly after, arriving at midnight.
When she realised that there was a six-hour wait to see a doctor, she attempted to leave but was told by the toxicologist that the risk was simply too great.
“I felt like the biggest idiot in the world while in A&E,” she said. “Thankfully, I ended up being seen quite quickly and the staff consulted the toxicologist, who did an amazing job.
“When a doctor inspected my throat, he said it looked like I’d burned the top layer of skin off. After that, I was sent for a chest X-ray. It was a really long wait for the results to come back, and I was so tired by this point. It took about four hours for me to get the all-clear.
“To pass the time, I ended up chatting to other patients, most of whom said they also had no idea how dangerous bleach and vinegar can be when mixed.
“Someone actually said they mixed bleach and vinegar in a bucket to clean, which is a lot more dangerous than my accidental mixing. We all learned something that night.”
Woman gets deposit back
Kate managed to get a few hours of sleep before the removal van turned up the next day. And she got her deposit back, too.
“The mark was still on the radiator when I finally got home, but thanks to a post on Mumsnet, I was able to get it out with nail polish remover,” she said. “The smell had gone and the flat was absolutely freezing, but I did the right thing leaving the balcony door open.
“My cat was fine too — she just slept on the bed with the door shut while I was gone.
Kate said she is sharing her story in the hope other people might learn from her “stupidity”. “You honestly wouldn’t think that two common products that most people use without thinking could be so dangerous,” she said.
Dr Hamdan Abdullah Hamed, MBChB, a dermatologist, told What’s The Jam: “If someone has been unfortunate enough to be exposed to chlorine gas, they'd first feel itchiness or a burning sensation, followed by redness, blistering and peeling skin.
“With further prolonged exposure, they could see dryness and scabbing below the initial layers of skin. I'd suggest that people would move out of the area to reduce exposure and at the very least use water or cold milk to decrease the immediate effects of the chemical burns.”
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