TWO sons have made an emotional appeal for people to install carbon monoxide alarms in their homes after their parents were killed by the gas, writes Sam Smith.
Leslie and Pamela Cox died in each other's arms in their Wickford home after a flue from their closed coal fire became blocked, an inquest heard on Thursday.
The blockage sent carbon monoxide into the living room of their home in Bruce Grove while the couple watched TV.
The grandparents were found dead, cuddled together on November 6 by their sons.
Coroner Mrs Caroline Beasley-Murray ruled the couple died as the result of a "tragic accident".
Speaking after the inquest in Chelmsford, son Neil said: "If you see it on the news you think it will never happen to you, we are devastated.
"We have got to keep going and be strong for everyone. It's lucky we are a close family and have a lot of good friends."
Mr Cox, 34, urged people to install carbon monoxide alarms. "Buy a tester, they are not expensive, it could save your life at the end of the day," he said.
The couple, who had been married for 36 years, had gone to Basildon Hospital on the Friday evening after Mr Cox complained of feeling dizzy, nauseous and disorientated.
The 58-year-old was told by doctors he had an inner ear infection while his 56-year-old wife declined treatment.
The couple then met their sons for lunch on the Saturday, the last time they were seen.
The inquest was told that a flue from the closed fire was blocked with combustion products , preventing the release of harmful gases.
The flue from the back of the fire acted in a similar way to a chimney, discharging gases to the outside atmosphere.
However, in this instance carbon monoxide was released into the living room creating a "contaminated atmosphere".
It was the first time the fire had been lit that winter.
A postmortem examination found the couple died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Tests revealed that the level of carbon monoxide in Mr Cox's blood was at 58 per cent while his wife's had reached 65 per cent. Normal levels are between one and three per cent.
Six members of the Cox family attended the inquest to hear the verdict. After giving her ruling, Mrs Beasley-Murray issued a warning about fire appliances.
"Any appliance which produces products of combustion must be properly maintained and serviced," she said.