Heating practices raise safety alarms

Experts urge govt intervention to educate public

Muhammad Shahzad January 10, 2024
In this picture taken on January 29 shows homeless people gathered besides a bonfire to keep themselves warm in a wintry evening in New Delhi. PHOTO: AFP


Unawareness and negligence continue to contribute to a rise in fire-related accidents, particularly during the winter season.

Despite various means used to combat the chilling cold, the neglect of standard safety protocols results in deadly accidents, claiming precious innocent lives.

As temperatures drop, casualties and injuries in fire-related incidents increase.

In a tragic incident last week, four minor siblings lost their lives due to an explosion in a sub-standard gas cylinder on the fifth floor of a building in Azam Chowk, Ichra. The father, Abbass, a manual laborer working on a tandoor, was away at work, and the mother was outside when the incident occurred.

The victims were inside a room turned into a kitchen using fibre sheets, where a sudden gas leakage from the cylinder ignited a fire, engulfing the entire room along with valuable belongings. Eyewitness accounts describe the rapid spread of the fire, leading to severe burn injuries and the tragic demise of the young victims.


The neglect of standard safety protocols during winter contributes to a spike in fire-related accidents, often resulting in suffocation or burn injuries due to the ignition of residences. Rescue 1122 reported at least 20,000 fire cases in Punjab in 2023.

Analysis of these incidents reveals that fatalities occur due to suffocation or burn injuries caused by fires breaking out in residential spaces. Many individuals, attempting to stay warm during the colder months, use heaters or open flames in enclosed spaces, unaware of potential dangers.

Burning heaters or fires in closed rooms diminish oxygen levels, causing suffocation. Additionally, the combustion of fire in closed environments increases the concentration of carbon monoxide (CO), an odorless and colourless poisonous gas that can be lethal within minutes. Sub-standard gas cylinders prone to explosions or leaks further contribute to fire incidents.

Heating equipment ranks as the second-leading cause of home fires. Both individuals and authorities bear the responsibility of ensuring the safety of citizens by promoting education on fire prevention and implementing measures to minimise such incidents.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2024.


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