Picture used for illustrative purpose only.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
The Dubai Police has issued a safety advisory on the dangers of accidentally inhaling carbon monoxide (CO), which can be produced by burning fuel in appliances such as stoves, ovens, fireplaces, and heating systems.
Butti Ahmed Bin Darwish Al Falasi, director of the Security Awareness Department in the General Department of Community Happiness at Dubai Police, explained that carbon monoxide (CO) exposures and poisonings occur more often during summer and winter seasons due to the lack of awareness and wrong practices of some individuals.
"In summer, the most common way of getting carbon monoxide poisoning is when the AC of an automobile is on while it's idle in a closed garage or space without proper ventilation. During the energy-making process, the vehicle pulls in the air mixed with CO through the AC vents. Then, the automobile's occupants accidentally inhale carbon monoxide and become weak due to lack of oxygen in their bodies, eventually dying," Al Falasi continued.
He added, "Meanwhile, carbon monoxide poisoning occurs in winter as people are more likely to use gas furnaces and heating appliances seeking warmth in closed places or structures with minimal airflow. Carbon monoxide is odourless, so it goes undetected by humans and silently kills them."
Awareness is the key
Al Falasi reaffirmed the keenness of Dubai Police to raise awareness and education every year through 'The Silent Killer' campaign on CO poisoning and related safety measures, such as ensuring proper ventilation of closed places and using locally certified cooling/heating appliances.
"We strongly advise installing toxic gases detectors and never using equipment that may cause fires in closed places such as essence or coal burners, and not stay in an idle vehicle in a garage or other enclosed structure for a long period." Al Falasi explained.
He also pointed out that the campaign targeted labour accommodations in three areas: Jebel Ali, Al Qouz, and Al Qusais.
"More than 2000 awareness bags were distributed among labours, containing winter supplies and awareness brochures in English and Urdu," Al Falasi added.
The silent killer
Ibtisam Abd Al Rahman Al Abdouli, Poisons Senior Expert and director of the Specialized Forensic Evidence Department at the General Department of Forensic Science and Criminology at Dubai Police, said carbon monoxide (CO) is a 'silent killer' because it is a colourless, odourless, and tasteless gas, and can be accidentally inhaled without it realizing.
"Some people may experience minor symptoms such as headache, weakness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting," "But when the CO level in the body is high, it could lead to loss of consciousness and eventually death," she explained.
Al Abdouli explained that CO is a toxic gas produced by the incomplete combustion of carbon-containing fuels, such as gasoline, natural gas, oil, coal, and wood.
"When a fire burns in enclosed places, including wood caravan houses and road trip vans, the oxygen is gradually replaced with carbon monoxide. This leads to serious tissue and cell damage and even death. "Carbon monoxide poisoning is behind many deaths worldwide due to lack of awareness and wrong practices, "she added.
She pointed out that two domestic helpers have died recently due to inhaling carbon monoxide poisoning after leaving charcoal burning overnight to heat their room."If someone is suspected of having CO poisoning, the first aid steps are to get them into fresh air immediately and call for emergency medical assistance," Al Abdouli said.
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