26 September 2023

Indoor warning against outdoor heaters

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NSW Health has reminded the State’s community never to use outdoor heaters or BBQs inside their home due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Medical Director at the NSW Poisons Information Centre, Dr Darren Roberts said that outdoor heaters and BBQs produced carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas you can’t see, taste or smell.

“Last year, we received an increase in the number of calls related to carbon monoxide poisoning so we are warning people to be safe in how they heat their homes this winter,” Dr Roberts said.

“Any outdoor device that burns fuel can produce carbon monoxide, even if there is no smoke,” he said.

“This includes barbeques using charcoal beads or briquettes and outdoor gas heaters and lanterns.”

He said when carbon monoxide is breathed in it decreases oxygen used by the heart, brain and other vital organs.

“This can cause unconsciousness and, in some cases, result in death,” he said.

Dr Roberts said carbon monoxide poisoning could affect anyone, but babies, pregnant women, the elderly and people with chronic medical conditions are at a higher risk.

“Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and weakness,” the Medical Director said.

“People with more severe poisoning may faint or lose consciousness, and in some instances, suffer permanent brain injury or death.”

Dr Roberts said that if we suspect someone has been exposed to carbon monoxide, we should call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 or in an emergency, call Triple Zero (000).

“If English is not your main language and you need an interpreter, call TIS National on 131 450 and ask to be transferred to the Poisons Information Centre,” he said.

More information about how to reduce risk and exposure this winter is available at NSW Health’s carbon monoxide poisoning website at this PS News link.

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