Srinagar- The health experts have flagged concern over the life threatening risks posed by increased and incessant use of gas heaters by people in Kashmir Valley to beat the nail biting cold this winter.
The medical experts in the valley maintained that the gas heaters are the “silent killers” with a number of patients turning up to the hospital for respiratory issues.
They said that the carbon monoxide is invisible, odourless, colourless and tasteless gas, so is difficult to detect.
“The unvented gas heaters are hazards and deprive the body of oxygen,” Dr Nisar ul Hassan, President, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) told Kashmir Observer.” It causes silent death because you can neither smell it nor taste or see it,”
He said that there are emissions of carbon monoxide which are fatal for human beings and have, in fact, led to several fatalities in the Valley. He further said that the carbon monoxide forms a bond with haemoglobin which leads to blockage of oxygen delivery to the tissues.
“Once the delivery of oxygen is hampered—resulting in tissue anoxia—thus the sudden death,” Dr. Nisar added.
Another pulmonologist from Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital said that the emissions from the gas heaters get dissolved into the blood which decreases the capacity of red blood cells to carry oxygen.
Kashmir is currently going through the hardest winter period of 40 days known as ‘Chilla-Kalan’. The minimum temperature of Kashmir is still below freezing point and has just risen by a few notches.
The summer capital—-Srinagar on Thursday night recorded a low of minus 6.4 degrees Celsius against minus 5.2 degrees Celsius the night before.
With non-availability of coal and wood for the traditional Hamam, the people use more electric heating and gas appliances in the winters. At the same time, the sale of heating gadgets in the Valley has picked-up.
I sold over 35 gas heaters and radiators in the last two months and people are still coming,” said Abdul Rashid, who owns an electric shop in Srinagar.
It may be noted, the gas heaters have led to several deaths across Kashmir, many suffocated to death in sleep.
In November 2022, a couple died of suffocation caused by a gas leak in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district. The couple had reportedly fallen unconscious after the room they were sleeping in was filled with gas from a heater.
In January 2019, five members of a family died inside their rented accommodation in the outskirts of Srinagar due to toxic gas from the LPG heater they were using.
Similarly, in 2019, a couple from North Kashmir’s Sopore died of asphyxiation in HMT area of Srinagar. As per reports, a gas heater was on in the room where the couple slept and next day their bodies were found.
Health experts maintain that many deaths can be avoided if people are aware of the preventive measures and they seek advice of doctors.
Dr. Hassan said that gas heaters should be used in open space, not in bedrooms and other closed rooms etc.
“..and you can’t use the gas heater for more than four hours. There should be enough ventilation so that the emitents will have a vent,” he said.
Its symptoms, according to doctors, include tiredness, shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness and nausea.
Dr. Hilal Ahmad Rather, HOD Cardiology SKIMS, told Kashmir Observer that the emissions from the gas heaters can kill any normal person, beat a heart patient or respiratory disease patient.
“The patients with heart and respiratory disease should be more careful,” he added