Alarm as charcoal stove misuse wipes out family

30Mar 2020
Correspondent
Shinyanga
The Guardian
Alarm as charcoal stove misuse wipes out family

​​​​​​​RESIDENTS of Ngilimba village in Kahama District, Shinyanga Region yesterday woke up to a threat posed by charcoal stoves after four family members died due to faulty use of the stove.

Regional Police Commander ACP Debora Magiligimba.

On Saturday night, the family reportedly lit the stove and closed windows and doors to warm the house since it was too cold with the heavy rains that pounded the area. None of them woke up.

Regional Police Commander ACP Debora Magiligimba said here yesterday that the four died of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning after toxic gas from the charcoal stove filled their sleeping rooms.

“They wished to keep the house warm and make their sleep comfortable without knowing that gas emitted by burning charcoal would fill the house,” she said.

The fatal mistake was to tightly close windows and the door, keeping out the wind, inadequate oxygen and non- exit of carbon monoxide from the burning charcoal, she said.

The deceased persons are  Masanja Emmanuel (35), Mngole Masanja (25), Holo Masanja (5) and Matama Masanja who age was not immediately established.

The bodies were handed to extended family members for burial after postmortem determined the cause of death, without suspicion of foul play by other persons, the RPC noted.

“I call upon residents not to use charcoal stoves for heating the house while sleeping. If they must, they should not close windows and doors,” she appealed. 

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that has no smell or taste and exposure to high levels of it kills.

Every year there are around 60 deaths from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in England and Wales, according to the UK National Health Service.

After carbon monoxide is breathed in, it enters one’s bloodstream and mixes with haemoglobin (the part of red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body) to form carboxyhaemoglobin.

When this happens, the blood is no longer able to carry oxygen, and this lack of oxygen causes the cells and tissue of key body organs like the heart and the brain to cease functioning, causing death.

The longer one inhales the gas, the easier it becomes to losing balance, vision and memory and, eventually consciousness.

This can happen within two hours if there's a lot of carbon monoxide in the air, the UK agency specifies.

Long-term exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide can also lead to neurological imbalance whose symptoms include difficulty in thinking or concentrating, frequent emotional changes like being easily irritated, depressed, plus making impulsive or irrational decisions.

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