Carbon Monoxide Poisonings On The Rise In Texas As People Desperately Try And Stay Warm
Carbon monoxide poisonings are on the rise in Texas after millions of people have been left without heating and electricity, as temperatures plummeted to their lowest in more than three decades.
Officials in Houston have recorded hundreds of carbon monoxide poisonings, as families turn to BBQ pits, generators and even their cars, to try and keep warm during the cold snap.
The situation has been described as ‘a public health disaster and a public health emergency’ by emergency room doctor Samuel Prater, who said with the ‘number of patients going in, it’s turning into a mini mass casualty event’.
Dr Prater, who works at Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center, told NPR that his hospital saw 60 patients with carbon monoxide poisoning admitted on Monday evening, February 15, and a further 40 patients the following day.
‘This is an unprecedented winter event, so desperate times call for desperate measures. These are folks with the best of intentions who are just feeling desperate and trying to get themselves warm – more importantly, trying to get their children warm – and resorting to unusual means where they’ll bring in a barbecue pit from outside, use their stovetop or use a campfire grill; anything they can do to try to get warm,’ he told host Ari Shapiro.
‘And through all these mechanisms, we’re seeing folks poisoned with – it’s a silent gas. You can’t see it. You can’t smell it. You don’t know that you’re getting poisoned until you start to feel sick.’
One of the casualties includes a 23-year-old father, from Honduras, who died in Fort Worth on Monday night, after using a generator to try and keep his family warm.
Kevin Ayala desperately wanted to keep his four-year-old son and wife from freezing, so opted to put a generator in his kitchen.
About an hour later, the family started to feel tired and went to sleep, but a friend later called round and found them all passed out. All three of them were rushed to hospital, but sadly, only his wife and child could be revived, NBCDFW reports.
Temperatures have plummeted to as low as –18°C in the southern state and as many as three million homes have been left without power, making it virtually impossible to keep warm during the unprecedented cold snap.
The situation is exacerbated by the fact that most homes in Texas are not insulated for cold weather, and many have also suffered from burst pipes as a result of water freezing.
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