The Police Health Service in liaison with the Territorial Police in Kabalagala, has established the cause of death of a female police officer and her 1-year old daughter, as a result of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. The facts gathered indicate that on the 1.10.2022, at around 8pm, a one Police Constable Saidia Avaku Miriam, attached to the Police Mechanical Workshop, returned home while in good health, had supper with 5 other family members and went to sleep in her room. The other family members who included; Angucia Stella, a 21-year-old maid, Faida Jackie, aged 17, Siguni Patrick aged 15, Tebenkana Ryan aged 6, and Nabirye Rahma aged 1, also went to sleep in their room.
It was further established that at around 10:45pm, Nabirye Rahma, aged 1, abruptly woke up and started having convulsions while crying. The maid woke up and tried to calm the child in vain. She informed the mother and in the process another child started getting convulsions and became unconscious. All of a sudden, all the family members became unconscious, till around 5am, when the maid, Angucia Stella, gained consciousness and informed their immediate neighbour, called Adukule John. They checked on the other family members, and found when PC Saidia Avaku Miriam and her daughter Nabirye Rahma had died. The bodies were taken to Mulago Hospital for Post – mortem, where the cause of death was established as carbon monoxide poisoning. The scene of two roomed house was documented, and a local stove was found in one of the corners, that emitted carbon monoxide, while the family was sleeping.
Every year, we continue to register cases of deaths, arising out of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, especially during the rainy season or cold weather. Inhaling carbon monoxide can be very dangerous for health and may cause death. Many home owners and business persons tend to leave charcoal stoves and other home heating systems to run for several hours, which increases the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. It is found in fumes produced by charcoal stove, furnaces, kerosene heaters, kerosene lamps, vehicles that are “warned up” in garages or closed settings, stoves, lanterns and gas ranges, portable generators, or by burning charcoal, or wood.
Carbon monoxide from these sources can build up in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces, and can lead to death of people and animals after inhaling it. The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from carbon monoxide poisoning before even having symptoms.
We would like to caution the public that the largest group that suffers from carbon monoxide poisonings are families. It is important to note that carbon monoxide poisoning is entirely preventable. Individuals or groups of persons can protect themselves by learning the symptoms of carbon monoxide and how to prevent it. The following tips are very crucial in preventing carbon monoxide poisoning;
1. Never use a charcoal stove, charcoal grill, lantern or portable camping stove inside a room, home, tent or camper.
2. Keep vents and flues free of debris. Debris can block ventilation and escape of carbon monoxide.
3. Gas cooking stove tops and ovens should not be used for supplemental heat.
4. Never run a generator, pressure wisher or any gasoline powered engine, inside a basement, garage or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open.
5. Never leave the car engine running while in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage. If you wait in a car, make sure its parked outside.
6. Those with heating systems, water heaters, any other gas or burning appliances, should ensure they are serviced regularly by a technician.
7. Install carbon monoxide detectors, where possible and check the batteries every 6 months.
8. Those with boats are advised to schedule regular engine and exhaust systems maintenance. And avoid swimming under the back deck as carbon monoxide builds up near exhaust vents.
Although every one is at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, its particularly more dangerous for children, because they breathe faster and inhale more carbon monoxide. This harms the ability of his or her blood to transport oxygen.
SCP Enanga Fred
3rd October 2022