HARARE – The Meteorological Services Department (Met Dept) has issued a warning to citizens on the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from gas and kerosene heaters as they use these to try and beat the biting cold being currently experienced.
Last year, a six-year-old suffocated after being poisoned by carbon monoxide (CO) produced by a combustion fire.
“We continue advising the public not to use braziers in unventilated rooms to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning,” the Met Dept said, adding the current cold spell is forecast to persist in all areas with light rain or drizzle.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include persistent tiredness, shortness of breath, headaches, nausea, vomiting and loss of consciousness.
Those most vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning are babies and young children, pregnant women, the elderly and immobile and those with respiratory problems.
Health experts said poorly maintained gas heaters emit not only carbon monoxide but other pollutants that may cause respiratory infections, exacerbate asthma symptoms and increase coughing and wheezing in children.
Harare City Council health services director Prosper Chonzi said it was also concerned with gas poisoning from braziers.
“People die of carbon monoxide poisoning without even knowing it. We have had cases in the past of such incidences but so far this year there are no deaths that I have been made aware of but the risk is still great and it is important that if you start to feel the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning you seek medical assistance as soon as possible,” said Chonzi.