(MENAFN - Arab News) With bitterly cold weather gripping the country, several foreign missions here have warned their workers not to use smoke-producing fuel to heat their rooms because of the danger of falling ill or dying.
A senior official from the Sri Lankan Embassy told Arab News Wednesday that one of the country's workers, who had used charcoal in his room to keep warm, had died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide is a product of combustion of organic matter under conditions of restricted oxygen supply, which prevents complete oxidation to carbon dioxide (CO2). Sources of carbon monoxide include cigarette smoke, house fires, faulty furnaces, heaters, wood-burning stoves, internal combustion vehicle exhaust, electrical generators, propane-fueled equipment such as portable stoves, and gasoline-powered tools such as leaf blowers, lawn mowers, high-pressure washers, concrete cutting saws, power trowels, and welders. Exposure typically occurs when equipment is used in buildings or enclosed spaces.
The official said the worker, Mohammed Razik Mohammed Anas, 36, died in his sleep. The incident occurred in a remote area in the Hail region when there was no power for a long period and the temperature had plummeted.
"Since there was no proper heater in the absence of electricity, the worker had opted to burn charcoal in his room." The official said the worker had no other means to keep warm during the cold weather over the past four days.
Last year, he said, the mission registered three deaths in similar circumstances. He said a fair percentage of Sri Lanka's workers live and work in remote areas in the Kingdom.
Anas had come to the Kingdom as a hospital cleaner in early January this year from Kegalle, a suburb 60 km from the Sri Lankan capital.
Mahdi Altaf, a nephrologist at King Faisal Specialist Hospital, told Arab News that deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning was very common because many workers keep their rooms closed without any ventilation. "The little oxygen remaining in the room is superseded by carbon monoxide," he said.
Sibi George, deputy chief of the mission at the Indian Embassy, said the embassy has also warned its workers about the dangers of using smoke-producing fuel in their rooms.
Emdad Ul-Haque, labor counselor at the Bangladesh Embassy in Riyadh, said his country's workers have also been involved in such incidents but there were no fatalities.