Appliance safety in spotlight as gas campaign heats up

  • Building and Energy campaign targets carbon monoxide hazards in the home
  • Gas heaters should be regularly serviced by a licensed gas fitter
  • Ensure adequate ventilation and awareness of carbon monoxide symptoms

A new campaign is urging Western Australians to stay safe and warm this winter by having their gas heaters serviced and being aware of carbon monoxide risks.

The campaign, by the State’s gas safety regulator, Building and Energy, emphasises the importance of regular servicing of gas appliances, which is recommended at least every two years – or annually if the equipment is more than 10 years old.

WA’s Director of Energy Safety, Saj Abdoolakhan, said faulty, poorly maintained or misused gas heaters could cause a build-up of potentially lethal carbon monoxide gas.

“Tragically, at least five deaths in Australia in the past decade have been linked to carbon monoxide, which is known as the ‘silent killer’ because it is invisible, odourless and tasteless so you may be unaware of the effects until it’s too late,” he said.

“This campaign features the ticking sound that many gas heaters make when they start up and asks the audience ‘Is your heater trying to tell you something?’. We hope this prompts people to think about when their gas heater was last serviced.

“They should contact a licensed gas fitter if it has been more than two years since the last service or if the heater is showing signs such as discolouration, difficulty relighting or a yellow flame rather than a steady blue flame.”

A licensed gas fitter can check appliances for issues such as blockages, overheating or burner problems that can produce carbon monoxide. They can also look at whether a room has adequate ventilation.

“A room with a bayonet socket for a gas space heater should have two permanent and unobstructed ventilation openings – one close to the floor, the other close to the ceiling,” Mr Abdoolakhan said.

“People should also avoid using exhaust fans at the same time as an open-flued gas heater because this can draw carbon monoxide into living spaces.”

Outdoor and portable gas appliances, such as patio heaters and camping equipment, should never be used indoors and should also be regularly serviced.

Mr Abdoolakhan urged users of gas equipment to be aware of the warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, which range from flu-like symptoms (such as headaches, fatigue and nausea) through to heart irregularities, vomiting, seizures and collapse.

“Seek medical attention immediately and try to get to the open air,” he said.

“It’s important to emphasise that gas appliances are safe if they are in good working order, used correctly and in a well-ventilated area. This can be achieved by following the safety advice outlined in our campaign.”

The campaign will run until mid-September. Search online for “safe and warm” or visit the campaign website at dmirs.wa.gov.au/safeandwarm.

Other gas safety tips are available at the Building and Energy website (dmirs.wa.gov.au), where you can also search for a licensed gas fitter.

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