Health chief issues a warning on carbon monoxide poisoning after woman lights a barbecue inside her home to keep warm

A Perth woman has suffered serious carbon monoxide poisoning after using a charcoal barbecue as a heater.

The incident has prompted health officials to warn against using outdoor appliances in enclosed areas. 

Western Australia’s chief health officer Tarun Weeramanthri said burning fuels or using unflued heaters in non-ventilated areas can cause poisoning, which can lead to serious tissue damage and death.

‘Somebody who is intoxicated or sleeping can die from carbon monoxide poisoning without ever experiencing symptoms,’ Professor Weeramanthri said, according to Perth Now.

‘Anybody who believes they might be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning should go outside immediately and not return inside until they have recovered completely.

‘Once in the fresh air, recovery is usually fast so if this does not happen it is important to call Health Direct on 1800 022 222 or the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26. 

CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING CASE STUDIES

  • In January 2011, a Queensland man died from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning caused by generator fumes while taking shelter from cyclone Yasi.
  • In 2009, a 43-year-old Sydney man died from carbon monoxide poisoning after using an outdoor charcoal barbeque inside his home.
  • During 2006-07, there were 365 public hospital cases for carbon monoxide poisonings recorded in Australia.
  • In the US around 30 deaths and 450 injuries each year are related to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.                                                                                                        Source: ACCC 

The odourless, colourless and highly poisonous gas is produced by any fuel-burning appliance. Early symptoms include dizziness, nausea and confusion.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause heart disease and brain damage and is often deadly.

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