'Silent killer' carbon monoxide hospitalises six in Sydney poisoning

·Associate News Editor
·2-min read

Six people have been hospitalised after suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning at a western Sydney home.

Emergency services were called to a home in Merrylands at about 5am on Tuesday morning after reports a person had fallen ill.

It quickly became apparent the those inside, a family and friends consisting of four adults and two boys, were suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning after they showed signs of drowsiness and nausea and were rushed to hospital.

Family members are taken out the home on stretchers. Source: Nine News
Family members are taken out the home on stretchers. Source: Nine News

The family are believed to have been using a charcoal cooker to heat up their home and had fallen asleep with it burning.

"Thankfully one person was aware enough to call Triple-0, preventing a potential tragedy," NSW Ambulance Inspector Andrew McApline said.

Fire and Rescue NSW later shared a photo of the barbecue used inside the home.

"Never bring outdoor heaters or cookers inside and never rely on charcoal beads for heating in confined spaces," it said.

The charcoal cooker used inside the home. Source: Fire and Rescue NSW
The charcoal cooker used inside the home. Source: Fire and Rescue NSW

Health authorities issued warning weeks earlier

It comes just weeks after NSW Health warned residents about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning during a particularly cold winter, urging people to avoid potentially-fatal mistakes.

“Burning charcoal, BBQ coal outdoor heaters, and portable backup generators (indoors) are some of the biggest concerns,” Dr Richard Broome, Director of Environmental Health at NSW Health, said.

Victoria’s former Director of Energy Safety, Paul Fearon, branded carbon monoxide the "silent killer" following a spate of poisonings.

Dr Christine Cowie, a Senior Research Fellow at the University of NSW’s Centre for Air Quality and Health Research and Evaluation, previously told Yahoo News Australia the most dangerous aspect was the gas's odourless state.

“There is no advanced warning," she warned.

When the gas does take control of the body, symptoms, such as headaches, tiredness and vomiting, are often confused with the flu, Dr Cowie explained, which can in turn prove fatal if not acted on immediately.

NSW Health said anyone who suspects carbon monoxide poisoning should contact the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26.

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