Avoid using outdoor cooking/heating appliances indoors during Cyclone Gabrielle recovery

Feb 20, 2023

Our fellow, Phoebe Taptiklis has come up with life-saving, evidence-based information for people in cyclone-ravaged areas of Aotearoa New Zealand.


Accidental carbon monoxide poisoning kills several people a year in Aotearoa. Deaths increase during long-term electricity outages, such as the current outages after Cyclone Gabrielle.


People often bring appliances designed for outdoors (like barbeques, generators, gas cookers) inside for cooking, which can cause death with bad ventilation in the house.


Burning fuel indoors with bad ventilation can mean a dangerous build-up of carbon monoxide – a colourless, odourless (and therefore unnoticeable) gas. 


Research shows poisonings are linked to using barbeques indoors. BBQs are designed for outdoor use and are not as well sealed as other indoor appliances. Generators used indoors can also cause carbon monoxide poisoning.


How to be safe from carbon monoxide poisoning:

  1. Be on alert. The only symptom of carbon monoxide poisoning is drowsiness (not headaches or feeling ill). 
  2. Don’t use indoors BBQs, generators, cookers or heaters designed for outdoor use. These appliances are designed for outdoor use, are often not built to the same standard as indoor appliances, and are more likely to cause poisoning.
  3. Do not use BBQs, generators, cookers or heaters close to an open window (or door). The carbon monoxide can blow in and diffuse inside.
  4. Always open a door (second best is a window) when indoors using a gas camping stove. Open doors ventilate better than open windows.
  5. Only use appliances in perfect condition and designed for indoor use. Dirty, damaged appliances can increase the release of carbon monoxide.