TWO pensioners have been taken to hospital with burns to their faces and eyes after apparently using a UV tanning lamp to heat their home.
An ambulance crew discovered the pair, both in their 70s, after being called to a tenement in the Gorgie area of Edinburgh at around 7.30am today.
Rescue workers found that a UV lamp designed for short tanning sessions had been left on for up to five hours to try to warm the property.
Both men, in their 70s, were taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary by ambulance where they are still being treated for their injuries.
One of the injured men was named locally as 74-year-old Robert McCartney.
A neighbour in Wheatfield Road, who did not want to be named, said: “The first I knew about it was when the gas man came this morning to check for carbon monoxide.
“I was a bit worried and the next thing I knew there was an ambulance.
“I never actually saw the two men go into the ambulance though.”
She added:“I don’t really know him [Mr McCartney] well but I know who he is. He keeps himself to himself.”
Mr McCartney used to enjoy a drink in Station Tavern on Gorgie Road.
A member of bar staff, who did not want to be named, said: “He comes in here occasionally and sits in the corner with his half pint.”
Mr McCartney recently featured in an article about the area on the local council news website.
He revealed he had worked for the cleansing department for 18 years.
He added: “There’s good shopping and it’s handy for my club. It’s too busy, too much traffic and some people fly-tip.”
A spokeswoman for the ambulance service said: “We believe a heater was left on for a few hours, I think to get some heat.
“They left them on for a few hours and when they woke up they had burns to their faces and eyes.”
She added: “They were both taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary after complaining of problems in seeing.
“As far as I’m aware no other people were involved.”
At the flat today there was still a strong smell of gas coming from the property.
A spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue said: “People first thought it to be a gas leak but it turned out that there was no leak at the property.
“Two elderly gentlemen in their 70s had injuries to their face and eyes after the misuse of UV lamps.
“A fire crew from Sighthill attended the incident.”
Age Concern Scotland said that many elderly people find winter a difficult time to try and heat their homes.
He said:”Obviously we are very concerned about the increasing costs of paying for heating bills.
“A lot of older people have a too low income, and finding heating for winter can be a bit of a dilemma on how to actually stay warm.”
He added: “I’ve never heard of somebody using a UV lamp before to heat their house. They need to look for help. You can receive benefits, pension credits or winter fuel payments.
“So really, if someone is worried about paying bills, get help.”
Excessive exposure to ultraviolet light can cause severe sun burning and lead to some forms of skin cancer.
Prolonged exposure can also affect the eyes and immune system.
Many tanning salons recommend a maximum exposure on tanning beds of just 12 minutes.