Winter Poisoning Danger from Charcoal


Five cases of carbon monoxide poisoning have seen 14 people hospitalised this winter after burning barbecue coals or charcoal briquettes indoors.

The Children’s Hospital at Westmead has issued a warning to the community to take care in the current cold weather and to avoid burning charcoal indoors.

“Carbon monoxide is a colourless and odourless gas, which can be toxic and poisoning most commonly occurs in enclosed spaces” said Jared Brown, Deputy Manager at The NSW Poisons Information Centre, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

Symptoms are non-specific and can include:

ï‚· Headache

ï‚· Nausea

ï‚· Vomiting

ï‚· Dizziness

ï‚· Loss of consciousness


Most of these incidents occur when charcoal is burnt inside at night for heat, often in barbeques. This carbon monoxide poisoning often involves multiple members of a household from young infants to the elderly.

In a study of cases reported to the NSW Poisons Information Centre between 2004 and 2012 more than 46 people suffered ill effects. In these cases all but one person needed to be hospitalised and eight victims lost consciousness.

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