Carbon monoxide generator poisoning: Avoid it during loadshedding

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The Enyobeni tavern tragedy in East London, where 21 minors died, has elicited a wide range of speculation on the cause of their deaths – including carbon monoxide poisoning.

And whilst it has yet to be confirmed, forensic pathologists are suspecting the deadly gas to be a strong lead for the underage children.

ALSO READ: Enyobeni deaths: Was ‘poisoned’ hookah, food or alcohol to blame?

ENYOBENI DEATHS: FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST SHARES VIEWS

Police have shunned speculation in accordance with official toxicology reports which will be released on Thursday 30 June. However, an independent forensic pathologist has shared his personal views.

Speaking to EWN, Paul O’Sullivan suspected that carbon monoxide poisoning could be the reason why the children died – without any visible injuries.

He said: “There is a smell. If I take you into a closed space and there is a generator or something running in there you will be able to smell the fume. But the problem is if you’re drinking alcohol and you know that there is a generator running, you may ignore the fumes or you may ignore the smell”.

The publication also reported that a petrol generator was found at the tavern following the incident. Electric generators pose a high risk for carbon monoxide leaks. This can occur in enclosed spaces, or even near doors or windows when placed outside.

According to Hopkins Medicine, breathing in carbon monoxide fumes prevents the body from using oxygen properly. This can harm the brain, heart, and other organs. A quick and sudden death often follows.

HOW TO AVOID CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING DURING LOADSHEDDING

With Eskom continuing to implement loadshedding during the winter months, safety tips using an portable generators are imperative. This can prevent loss of life due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Safety tips when using electric portable generators:

  • Never use an electric generator in an enclosed space or outside a window, door, or air vent.
  • Place the generator at least 20 feet (6 metres) away from homes and buildings. The generator’s engine exhaust must be directed away from windows and doors.
  • Buy or install generators with carbon monoxide safety technology. A battery-operated carbon monoxide detector will detect dangerous levels of the gas in the air and automatically switch off the machine.
  • Keep indoor vents free of debris that can block ventilation lines.

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