Family Hospitalised With Suspected Carbon Monoxide Poisoning After Using Charcoal Burner
A family of five has been taken to hospital after using a charcoal burner to keep their home warm during the latest winter cold snap.
Multiple paramedic crews, fire rescue teams and police were called to a unit in the south-western Sydney suburb of Cabramatta at about 2am on Monday, after one of the parents called to report all five people were feeling unwell.
Emergency crews immediately evacuated the children (of unspecified ages) and their parents from their second-floor apartment on Longfield Street. All five were all reporting headaches and extreme lethargy.
The parents then revealed to crew they had left the charcoal implement burning for hours before extinguishing it and storing it in a cupboard.
The entire family was taken to Liverpool Hospital for further treatment for suspected inhalation of carbon monoxide.
Fire rescue and a hazmat unit were on the scene and entered the apartment dressed in breathing apparatuses to check multiple units for air quality, as well as to retrieve the item used to burn the charcoal.
The family is still recovering in hospital.
Carbon monoxide is odourless, tasteless and colourless. It's usually generated by motor vehicles and bushfires, but domestic appliances like gas heaters and central heating systems can also produce the gas.
It can cause harmful health effects or even death, according to the NSW Department of Health.
"Carbon monoxide can cause harmful health effects by reducing the amount of oxygen reaching the body’s organs (like the heart and brain) and tissues," the Department website reads.
"At extremely high levels, carbon monoxide can cause death (carbon monoxide poisoning)."
Common symptoms of carbon monoxide inhalation include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue. Confusion and impaired vision can result from inhalation at a higher dose.
This is not the first report of people inhaling the gas.
Just last Thursday, Vanessa and Scott Robinson remembered their two young boys Chase and Tyler, who were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning in 2010. Vanessa had put a gas heater on for her sons, eight and six at the time, and woke to find them dead as a result of a fault in the heater.
"The weather was cold like today, and the simple act of turning on the gas heater in our rental property ripped our lives apart," Vanessa Robinson wrote on Facebook on the ninth anniversary of her boys' death.
Following the tragedy, Vanessa founded the Chase and Tyler Foundation to raise awareness for and eliminate accidental carbon monoxide poisoning throughout Australia.
In early May, an American family of four and their three dogs were found dead in their Ohio home after possible carbon monoxide poisoning. When firefighters entered the home they detected a very large amount of the gas inside.
The Chase and Tyler Foundation recommends choosing a registered gas fitter to install your gas device. It also recommends servicing all fuel-burning appliances once every two years and making sure there is enough fresh air in the room when using a gas device.
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