Heating Systems in the Himalayas : Caution Advised
CAUTION : While Traveling to the Mountains in the Winters
Recently we got the tragic news of a newly married Couple who died due to Carbon Monoxide poisoning while on their Honeymoon in the scenic Hunza Valley located in the Karakorams. There are many people from the Plains who travel to the Mountains in the Winters as well to experience the Snow and the Cold and are dependent on the Heating Systems locally available. Here is some advise on the Heating Systems and caution that should be exercised with them.
While growing up in Kashmir we relied on elementary Wood based Heating Systems, mostly the Bukhari, as there was always a dearth of Electricity as there still is. Every Winter we used to come across sad news of someone dying due to Carbon Monoxide poisoning mainly due to using a Coal Bukhari which gave a lot of heat but of the lethal kinds. There were also Wood fired Bukharis, which are still widely used but however we used Saw Dust fired Bukharis which though lowest on heat was the safest and it kept going once it was lit.
Now as more and more people Travel to the Himalayas and are introduced to new kinds of Heating systems you should understand that these need to be used with Caution. There are many kind of Heating Systems now in use and these Range from Wood based to Electricity based to Kerosene based to Gas based.
Wood based systems are mostly like a Bukhari which is likely fired with Wood. Coal based Bukharis are not really in use. Wood Bukharis are an option widely used in colder places. If you are using a Wooden Bukhari make sure that there is a Vessel filled with Water kept on or near the Bukhari. This helps in keeping the Humidity up in the Room and it doesnt go dry. And stop adding Wood once you are planning to sleep.
Electric Heaters are another option but these arent very heat effective as they need a constant Voltage and most Mountain places have paucity of Electricity as well as Voltage. But they are still effective in less colder places but again advisable to switch off before sleeping.
Kerosene Bukharis/ Heaters are another option. The New ones are quite effective but there is the problem of some smell and some people dont take very kindly to these fumes. So you need to see if it suits you. Again switch it off before sleeping.
And now we come to Gas Heaters. These are now being widely used. You dont need to rely on Electricity or Wood or smelly Kerosene. Just plug in a Gas Cylinder and you are good to go. But again a Gas Heater generates a lot of Carbon Monoxide. So as in other heating appliance switch it off before sleeping and make sure the Room is well ventilated. Keep a window open if you need to.
And then there are things like Electric Blankets. These are very effective if they are used under the Bed Cover and these ensure that you have a warm bed to get into. Again it goes without saying switch it off before sleeping.
Bottom line no matter which Heating System is used Switch it off before going to sleep and make sure that your Room is well Ventilated.
The best option is to make optimum use of your Body heat, use Thermals and Socks and Warm Woolen caps for Sleeping instead of using the Heater. Take an extra Quilt or two Extra Quilts but ensure that all Heating is off before you go to sleep. It could save your life.
PS : I have used / using all these Devices in our Home. We use a Saw Dust bukhari which is the safest. And the Gas Heater we only use in the Dining / Drawing Room of the House. Areas where no one sleeps. Electric blankets and Electric Heaters else where as the Electricity condition is somewhat improved in Srinagar. But all Heating off before Sleeping.
RIP to the Beautiful couple who lost their life in this tragic incident of Gas Heater poisoning.