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Avoid unvented gas heaters, can prove fatal: Medical experts

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People shouldn’t use it for more than 4-hrs a day: DAK

As three more family members died due to suffocation at Nehalpora Pattan Baramulla on Tuesday in sleep, medical experts advised people not to use unvented gas heaters in closed spaces as it is very dangerous and can even prove fatal as well.

Dr Nisar ul Hassan President Doctors Association of Kashmir (DAK) said that the heaters emit combustion products like carbon monoxide and once it reaches a particular level inside a room, a person gets “carbon monoxide poisoning”.

Hassan said the best way to prevent deaths due to unvented gas heaters is to discontinue their use and instead, use vented gas heaters.

“If people continue using unvented gas heaters, they should not use them in bedrooms, bathrooms or in any enclosed spaces,” he said adding these heaters should only be used in rooms with adequate ventilation.

Hassan said unvented gas heaters should not be used more than 4 hours per day, since it is meant to supplement other heating methods rather than providing the main heating source.

“These heaters are commonly used during winters to keep rooms warm particularly at night. It has no chimney to vent the combustion products like carbon monoxide outside the home, as a result, this toxic pollutant remains in the room and exposure to high levels of this toxic causes death,” he said.

“Carbon monoxide is a silent killer as you can’t see it, you can’t smell it and you can’t taste it. The individual is rendered completely helpless without feeling the harm thus becoming unconscious during sleep leading to death,” Hassan said.

Hassan said people who are particularly vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning, including children, elderly, pregnant women and those with chronic medical conditions.

Dr Shahid- ul- Islam said that people must take precautions and should avoid using an unvented gas heaters.

Shahid said that evidence of suffocation may include small red or purple splotches in the eyes and on the face and neck as well as in the lungs (petechial haemorrhages).

“Asphyxiation may also produce foam in the airways as the victim struggles to breathe and mucus from the lungs mixes with air,” he said.

Shahid said that other symptoms of suffocation include shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing, a slow heart rate, hoarseness, a sore throat, confusion, loss of consciousness, nose bleeding and visual changes.

“I advise people not to leave the gas heater on while sleeping,” he said.