The Public Authority for Civil Defence and Ambulance (PACDA) has cautioned citizens and residents who use room heaters during the winter season to be careful of the dangers. Speaking to the Observer, a spokesperson at the PACDA said that prevention is better than facing casualties, and a room heater should not be kept on for more than four hours.
“Room heaters shouldn’t be kept on while you’re asleep, and they should be turned off before four hours,” he said, adding that this is because room heaters in operation for long hours can deplete presence of oxygen in the room, and let the residents inhale carbon monoxide in excessive quantities.”
Referring to the tragic incident at a tourist resort in Nepal where 8 members of two families were found asphyxiated to death during their sleep, he said electric heaters should be inspected thoroughly from time to time to ensure if the same is in perfect condition.
“Likewise, heaters shouldn’t be left unattended, and should be switched off when you are not in the room,” said Ahmed al Khadouri, lecturer, Fire and Safety College, Seeb.
“Overworking of heaters can trigger emission of carbon monoxide which is poisonous and a silent killer when inhaled. It is catastrophic because the person using the heater wouldn’t be seeing the poisonous gases, and he wouldn’t be even knowing that he is inhaling the same, and ultimately this will result in death”, he added.
He further said that the signs of carbon monoxide exposure include abdominal pain or discomfort, weakness, headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting and all these symptoms will be unknown if the occupants are fast asleep.
Electric heaters should be kept on a hard, non-flammable surface and not on carpets or wood or plastic furniture. Also make sure that the heater plug is not overloaded nor are they connected to the same plug along with other electrical devices.
In view of the potential hazards posed by electrical heaters during winter, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has urged consumers to choose water heaters which follow Omani and GCC safety specifications. Many of these heaters cause shocks and fires in homes as they do not conform to electrical regulations adopted in the Sultanate.