A Suicidal Act for Getting Warmth

The Incident

The fire alarm was activated by a smoke detector inside a room of the student dormitory. Investigation revealed that the smoke detector was activated by smoke generated by the flame of the gas stove inside the room. The gas stove was turned on by a student for the purpose of warming up the room (it was a cold winter day). To keep the warm air, the door and windows of the room were tightly closed.


Lessons Learned

The incident could have led to more serious consequences if the Security personnel had not been alerted by the fire alarm. Without sufficient air supplied to the room, the oxygen inside could been depleted quickly, resulting in a dangerous asphyxiation condition. Worse yet, carbon monoxide could have been built up in the room due to incomplete combustion (insufficient oxygen for burning) or leakage of town gas. Inhalation of even a very small amount of carbon monoxide could be fatal.

Sufficient fresh air supply must be provided when burning a fire (even for cooking) inside a room, such as by opening some windows or by turning on the ventilation hood above the stove.

Turning on a gas stove is not a proper means for heating the space of a room. This will pose a high risk for fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. A proper electrical space heater should be used instead. Fuel powered heaters are not recommended. In the case there is no feasible alternatives, fuel powered space heaters must be used under well ventilated conditions.