TAIPEI, Taiwan - The fire bureau recently warned hot pot lovers about the potential of carbon monoxide poisoning when eating hot pot within poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
As part of the Chinese New Year holida, family meals involving hot pot are common. Huang Yu-hsiang, an officer from the Fire Bureau of Taoyuan County, has warned that continuously heating a hot pot through the burning of coal or via gas fires is extremely dangerous when performed in a poorly ventilated indoor environment.
A few years ago, he said, a number of patrons suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning at a barbecue restaurant as the venue's windows were sealed. The patrons were grilling all the food indoors.
People should be particularly careful when they cook inside, with barbecues and hot pots the main reason behind such poisoning, Huang said.
He said the symptoms of mild poisoning are similar to the flu, including headaches, fatigue, vomiting or stomach problems. In the early stage, such symptoms are easily dismissed by people as the signs of a cold, Huang said.
Most people are too weak to call for help when they finally realise that they are being poisoned, Huang added.
While most people understand that placing a water heater in the bathroom may cause carbon monoxide poisoning, many people do not realise that placing the heater on indoor balconies is equally dangerous, Huang also noted.
Indoor balconies with dust-covered window screens can obstruct the flow of oxygen, which can be deadly, he added.
He warned people that placing water heaters in an indoor laundry room filled with too many clothes is also dangerous as the clothes can obstruct the flow of oxygen.
Those suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning should immediately be evacuated to areas with improved air flows and have their clothing loosened. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) may be required where a person has fallen unconscious.