A family has been hospitalised after carbon monoxide (CO) was present in their Sydney east home. The parents who arrived home at about 1:30pm on Monday found their children unconscious.
Emergency services arrived soon after and treated the family at the home. All the children were then rushed to hospital.
It is suspected that a recently installed pool heater or ducted heating system was leaking carbon monoxide.
How can carbon monoxide become a problem?
A carbon monoxide leak can occur when fuels such as gas, oil, coal and wood do not burn properly.
These fuel sources can be found in many common household appliances including heaters, boilers and stovetops.
This health danger can be caused by poor ventilation or faulty appliances.
Why is carbon monoxide dangerous?
Carbon monoxide gas evades human detection as it is colourless, odourless and tasteless.
Once CO enters the human body it disrupts the movement of oxygen in the blood stream which can be detrimental to organ health.
The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning increases in cooler weather as windows and doors are kept closed to retain heat while the airflow from outside is minimised which is then unable to flush out the CO when it is leaking.
If the CO is not flushed out with fresh air, the proportion of this gas in the air will continue to rise. At dangerous levels CO can cause significant health issues including death.
What steps can households take to prevent CO poisoning?
Make a list of all the fuel burning appliances at home and call a qualified technician to service them regularly. If a fuel burning appliance is faulty or is nearing the end of its useful life, replace it.
Like smoke alarms, CO alarms should be vacuumed every four to six weeks to remove any dust which can reduce the effectiveness of the sensor. If the alarms have passed their expiration date they should be replaced.
Shut off all appliances before leaving the home or while sleeping.
Install where possible fuel-burning appliances outside. Do not use outdoor appliances indoors such as gas or charcoal barbecues indoors.
Never start a car in a closed environment, for example leaving a garage door closed when starting a vehicle. A carbon monoxide alarm is also useful in the garage.
If someone you know uses a fuel burning appliance (i.e. relatives, friends and neighbours), talk to them about the dangers of CO poisoning and what steps they can take to prevent it.