Srinagar, Nov 8: As winter has almost set in pushing people across Kashmir to buy heating gadgets including gas heaters etc, the leading medicos in the Valley on Wednesday said the use of gas heaters during winters can prove as “silent killers” if proper cautions aren’t taken.
The doctors urged people to ensure proper ventilation in rooms and not to use gas heaters in bedrooms. Kashmir’s leading medico at Government Medical College (GMC) College Srinagar, Dr Nisar ul Hassan 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. “Heaters with fixed chimneys can be used during winters,” he said.
Dr Nisar said that if people continue using unvented gas heaters, they should not use them in bedrooms, bathrooms or in any enclosed spaces. These heaters should only be used in rooms with adequate ventilation,” he said.
Hassan said unvented gas heaters should not be used for more than four 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,” Dr Nisar said, adding that when carbon monoxide is inhaled by a person when he or she falls asleep, it direct goes into the lungs, mixes with the blood and can either cause a heart attack or a brain stroke which ultimately leads to the death of the person silently.
Dr Nisar said people who are particularly vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning, including children, elderly, pregnant women and those with chronic medical conditions.
Head of the Department Chest Diseases hospital Srinagar, Dr Naveed Nazir told KNO that during winter, respiratory tract infections shows an upward trend. “People use polythene on windows and doors to maintain temperature but they forget to keep the ventilation with the result harmful gasses remain in the room. In the past we have seen many deaths caused by the consumption of carbon monoxide,” he said. “People can use gadgets like gas heaters but there has to be proper ventilation. Without ventilation in the room, use of gas heaters can prove harmful.”
Dr Naveed urged people to buy gas heaters that are certified by the regulatory authority. “Focus has to be on proper ventilation so that people remain safe during winters,” he said.