On Tuesday, eight tourists from Kerala were found dead in a Nepal hotel room, reportedly due to carbon monoxide poisoning caused by an outdoor heater kept inside their room. This is not the first time such an unfortunate incident has been reported. Multiple events have been reported in the past where people have died after inhaling fumes from diesel generators, gas geysers, air conditioners, and other such appliances. These appliances often emit fumes, one of which is the deadly carbon monoxide.
Inhaling carbon monoxide is potentially fatal, but what makes it more dangerous is that the gas is odourless and colourless, so people may not even realise they are inhaling it. Thus it is important to understand what safety measures can be taken to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
Why makes carbon monoxide dangerous?
Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of combustion, and household products such as gas geysers, portable generators, furnaces and more can release this poisonous gas. When carbon monoxide enters a human’s body, it hampers the flow of oxygen and as a result, the body is deprived of oxygen.
Within a few hours of exposure to carbon monoxide, an individual may feel light-headed, nauseous, and may even experience a loss of coordination and balance. The symptoms can range from mild to severe.
In a closed space, the lack of ventilation causes the poisonous gas to be trapped inside. This can be fatal, as there is a greater exposure to the gas.
What to do if you are experiencing symptoms
So how do you know that if you are experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning? According to the Centers for Diseases Control (CDC), symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are described as being "flu-like" without having the actual flu. Be wary of any sudden changes in heart rate or breathing and excessive and sudden onset dizziness.
If an individual is only experiencing mild symptoms, turn off all gas stoves and heaters and open windows and doors for better ventilation. Inform local gas authorities at once.
Treatment generally consists of reoxygenating an individual through an oxygen mask to ensure that there is a quicker production of oxygen-rich haemoglobin to supply the body with oxygen.
What can you do to prevent it?
Carbon monoxide detectors are available which can be installed around the home. These will alert you in case of rising levels of carbon monoxide.
In addition, precautionary measures such as ensuring proper ventilation and taking extra care when using gasoline-powered motors and equipment, proper vehicle care to ensure that exhaust fumes do not get trapped indoors (if parking vehicles inside), are some steps which can be taken to keep you safe from carbon monoxide poisoning.