Winter Tragedies

The mercury is under free-fall. Compared to last year, the month of November and thus far December has been dry. It has meant that the cold conditions have intensified. The severe cold conditions prompt people to look for measures to ward off against it. This in turn invariably brings tragedies. Already several persons have died due to asphyxiation in Shopian and Ganderbal districts. Last year on the intervening night of November 28 and 29, a mother and her two minor daughters died purportedly due to suffocation in Uri in north Kashmir’s Baramulla while a Bukahri (wood burning heater) was lit in their room to protect against the chill. The pictures of a five-member family belonging to Kupwara district found dead in their rented accommodation in Mansoor Colony in Srinagar’s Bemina area in January two year ago still continue to haunt the memories of people. It is also not the case that these deaths occur once in a while but such incidents happen recurrently. It is also a fact that Home heating has improved over the past years. However, despite advancements, the tragedies like the one in Uri or Bemina continue to befall.  The threat of asphyxia is very high in the use of gas heaters. Many people have died while in sleep due to gas leakage or heaters burning off all oxygen in the room. The use of other heaters using wood, charcoal, or kerosene can bring more dangers if not used judiciously.

Apart from death, skin dryness may compound by using heaters and blowers. It could also lead to eye and skin irritations. In the case of eyes it may then lead to conjunctivitis while the skin can become itchy and then develop an allergy, the experts have said.

Health experts also believe that the number of deaths and complications can be avoided by making the public aware of the preventive measures. It needs no special emphasis that the safety of instruments requires continuous watch, with no scope for waivers. There is a need to strengthen the approach to the public as well as occupational safety. The government needs to create awareness about the hazards as also the safety measures about the use of the various heating gadgets. Also, people need to be careful about using all types of heaters including the gas heater.

The devices should never be left unattended. Combustible materials should be kept away from heaters.


Related Articles