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Dubai: Two Asian domestic workers in Dubai died in their sleep from inhaling carbon monoxide (CO) after leaving charcoal burning overnight to heat their room during a cold winter night recently, police said on Wednesday.

The two women were sleeping in a tightly-closed room.

Dubai Police warned of poisoning and suffocation resulting from inhaling carbon monoxide emitting from charcoal fire in closed places.

The Dubai Police on Wednesday have issued a safety advisory on the dangers of accidentally inhaling CO, which can be produced by burning fuel in appliances such as stoves, ovens, fireplaces, and heating systems.

‘Silent Killer’

The annual campaign ‘The Silent Killer’ has been launched by the police in various areas especially targeting the workers accommodations across Dubai. Highlighting the importance of the campaign, police said that it was important to regularly awareness the people about dangers of poisonous gases.

Butti Ahmed bin Darwish Al Falasi, Director of the Security Awareness Department in the General Department of Community Happiness at Dubai Police, explained that CO exposures and poisonings occur more often during summer and winter seasons due to the lack of awareness.

“During summer, the most common way of getting carbon monoxide poisoning is when the AC of an automobile is switched on while it’s parked in a closed garage or space without proper ventilation. The parking vehicle pulls in the air mixed with CO through the AC vents. Then, anyone sitting inside the car can accidentally inhale carbon monoxide which slowely makes him or her week due to lack of oxygen and eventually leads to death,” Al Falasi said

Meanwhile, he added, CO poisoning also occurs during winter when people use gas furnaces and appliances for heating purposing indoors. This leads to production of CO. Since it is an odourless gas, it goes undetected by humans and silently kills them.

Awareness is key

Al Falasi reaffirmed the keenness of Dubai Police to raise awareness through its annual campaign ‘The Silent Killer’ on CO poisoning and related safety measures.

“We strongly advise installing toxic gases detectors and never using equipment that may cause fires in closed places such as incense or coal burners, and not staying in a parked vehicle with engine running in a garage or other enclosed structure for a long period,” he explained.

He also pointed out that the latest campaign targeted workers accommodations in Jebel Ali, Al Qouz, and Al Qusais.


Ibtisam Abd Al Rahman Al Abdouli, Poison Expert and Director of the Specialised Forensic Evidence Department at the General Department of Forensic Science and Criminology at Dubai Police, said CO is a ‘silent killer’ because it is a colourless, odourless, and tasteless gas, and can be accidentally inhaled. “Some people may experience minor symptoms such as headache, weakness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting but when the CO level in the body is high, it could lead to loss of consciousness and eventually death,” she explained.

Carbon monoxide

Al Abdouli explained that CO is a toxic gas produced by the incomplete combustion of carbon-containing fuels such as gasoline, natural gas, oil, coal, and wood. “When a fire burns in enclosed places, including wood caravan houses and road trip vans, the oxygen is gradually replaced with carbon monoxide. This leads to serious tissue and cell damage and even death,” she added.

“If someone is suspected of having CO poisoning, the first aid steps are to get them into fresh air immediately and call for emergency medical assistance,” Al Abdouli said.