Poison warning issued as chill arrives

South Australians are being warned about the dangers of Carbon Monoxide poisoning with 14 cases requiring hospital admission in the last 12 months.

MFS Assistant Chief Fire Officer Peter Mason said with winter just beginning, this number has the potential to rise due to the increased use of gas appliances, such as unflued gas heaters.

“Increasingly, people are turning their backyard area into an inviting enclosed space, with the installation of blinds, fit for cooking and entertaining all year round. This means that typical outdoor equipment and appliances, such as gas fuelled barbecues, patio outdoor heaters or ethanol fuelled heaters are being used in an indoor environment,” ACFO Mason said.

ACFO Mason said when these types of equipment become faulty or are operated in poorly ventilated areas, products of combustion can build up and be inhaled by residents without them even realising.

SA Health Toxicology Manager Dr Ian Delaere said the most critical thing to know about carbon monoxide poisoning is that it is difficult to detect, with the deadly gas having no smell, taste or colour.

“That’s why it’s so necessary for people to be able to spot the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning in themselves, but in their loved ones as well,” he said.

“These symptoms include persistent tiredness, shortness of breath, headaches, nausea, vomiting and loss of consciousness. For asthmatics and those with respiratory problems, there is an increase in coughing and even wheezing.

 “People who are most vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning are babies and infants, young children, the elderly and those who experience breathing or mobility difficulties.”

Dr Delaere said if carbon monoxide poisoning is a possibility, to go outside to get fresh air and seek medical attention immediately, as carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal.

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