Couple dead after using patio heater indoors

  • Breaking
  • 31/07/2009

By Liz Puranam

Police say a Taumaranui couple found dead in their bed are likely to have died from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by using an outdoor patio gas heater inside their room.

David and Bernadette Otimi were found by their three young children.

Police say the deaths are not suspicious but they are a tragedy and a warning for others.

Patio heaters are safe and common place outdoors, but inside a Taumaranui home an outdoor patio gas heater proved deadly.

Alan Merry of the New Zealand Fire Service says the deaths are most likely carbon monoxide poisoning.

“The probable cause of death is carbon monoxide poisoning but this finding is subject to further toxicology tests which may take some time to come back,” he says.

Toxicologist Michael Beasley from Otago University says carbon monoxide poisoning can reduce the blood's capacity to carry oxygen around the body to lethal levels.

“The situation with the reduced oxygen supply puts more strain on the heart. It tries to pump harder, but in severe cases, one can go into heart failure,” he says.

The incident is not the first time outdoor gas appliances have been deadly.

Last year in Ruapuke, two men died in a cabin after they brought a charcoal barbecue into the hut for warmth.

Other cases are a Northland couple who died after leaving a gas cooker on in their caravan.

And two Department of Conservation volunteers died after using a gas cooker in their tent in the Chatham Islands.

Mr Merry says the heaters must not be used in confined spaces.

“This tragedy is a stark reminder to all New Zealanders that outdoor heating appliances should only be used outdoors and never indoors,” he says.


source: newshub archive