Warning over carbon monoxide risk from indoor heaters

Coal or wood-burning heaters be used outside or in well ventilated rooms, say police

Traditional indoor heaters can let off deadly carbon monoxide poisoning and must be only used in well ventilated places. Courtesy: AD Police

Residents using charcoal and wood burners to heat their homes this winter have been warned against the risks of asphyxiation.

In a post on social media, Abu Dhabi Police advised residents to follow to safety measures while using traditional heating methods to stay warm as temperatures dip across the country.

Coal and wood smoke contains tar, gases and soot as well as chemicals like carbon monoxide, a colourless, odourless and flavourless gas that can kill.

“These heaters must be ignited outside the room or provided with special ventilators to suck the smoke out,” police said.

“Proper ventilation should be provided all the time during the use of charcoal and wood burner.

“It should not be left inside to cool down and should be extinguished outside the house,” police said.

Fine particles from these fuels and chemicals can aggravate coughing and trigger asthma attacks if inhaled for short periods.

When inhaled for long periods, carbon monoxide enters red blood cells and forms carboxyhemoglobin, a stable complex of the deadly gas that can starve the body of oxygen and lead to death.

Authorities said these heaters could also become a fire hazard and called on residents to keep an extinguisher on hand in case of emergencies. Twenty-three people died and 43 suffered smoke inhalation from the fires that broke out in homes across the country between September 2018 and June 2019, according to police.