West Australians could be putting their health at risk this winter when they switch on gas heaters for the first time.
Faulty, poorly maintained or misused gas heaters can leak potentially lethal carbon monoxide gas – an issue highlighted by Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week (29 April 29 to 5 May).
Western Australia’s Director of Energy Safety, Ken Bowron, is reminding householders to have their gas heaters serviced before using them this winter.
Signs that a gas appliance isn’t working correctly and requires a service include difficulty relighting, discolouration on the outer case or a yellow flame rather than a steady blue flame.
“With heaters sitting idle for many months over summer, air filters, air ways, fans and burners can become blocked by lint and dust. This can lead to overheating and burner problems producing carbon monoxide gas,” Mr Bowron said.
“Gas appliances should be checked and serviced by a licensed gas fitter or service agent, as per the manufacturer’s instructions or at a minimum every two years. If the appliance is over 10 years old, it should be checked annually. You can check the date of the last service by viewing the service sticker attached to it.
“Good ventilation and maintenance are vital to prevent the build-up of harmful carbon monoxide levels and your family’s safety.”
Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless and poisonous gas. You may not know you have been exposed to potentially fatal levels until the symptoms become severe.
Exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide may cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, weakness, fatigue and nausea. Higher levels and prolonged exposure can result in severe headaches, dizziness, rapid or irregular heartbeat, vomiting, seizures and collapse. In extreme cases, this can lead to coma and death.
Medical attention should be sought immediately if these symptoms are present or if carbon monoxide inhalation is suspected.
Visit www.energysafety.wa.gov.au for more information or to check your gas fitter is licensed.