Keep warm and safe this winter – check your gas heater and prevent carbon monoxide leaks
Winter will soon be here and with the temperatures dropping across Adelaide, many of us are starting to prepare for cooler days and nights. We pull out our doonas, electric blankets, and dust off new and old gas heaters. Winter is a time when fire danger in the home increases along with the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week is coming up just after Easter, 29 April to 5 May. It is a timely reminder to get your gas heaters checked for safety for the winter. You might be asking – “why do we need a week dedicated to awareness of carbon monoxide”? Good question.
In 2018, 24 people were taken to South Australian emergency departments for carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, a 60% increase from the previous year prompting the SA Government to issue warnings leading up to winter.
If your gas heater is not serviced and maintained, it can leak carbon monoxide, which is colourless, odourless and tasteless and can have a devastating effect on people in the household. It has been called the silent killer because carbon monoxide fumes can potentially cause death without anyone being aware.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning
If there is too much carbon monoxide in the air, the levels of CO build up in your bloodstream. The oxygen in your red blood cells is then replaced by carbon monoxide, so basically you are depleted of vital oxygen which our bodily tissues need to survive. It is toxic to everyone but especially to unborn babies, children, the elderly and anyone with a heart condition.
At best it causes nausea, dizziness, headaches and confusion. At worst it causes death. We cannot stress enough the importance of checking and servicing your gas heaters, whether you are a home owner or landlord.
Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week and how the Chase Tyler Foundation began
In May 2010, Vanessa and Scott Robinson lost their two boys Chase, 8 and Tyler, 10, who died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty gas heater at their rental home in Mooroopna, Victoria. This tragic and devastating event spurred Vanessa and Scott to establish the Chase and Tyler Foundation to raise awareness of the impact of carbon monoxide. Their website has many tips on using gas safely inside and outside the home.
Their work in spreading the word about carbon monoxide poisoning in our communities has led to the launch of CO Awareness Week 2019 from 29 April to 5 May. This event occurs annually just before winter begins. You can get involved and help to generate publicity about the effects of carbon monoxide.
We give a big thanks to this foundation for increasing awareness of this potential silent killer in our homes which will prompt us to take the right precautions.
Keep yourself and your family safe – what to do if you suspect CO levels are increasing
If you suspect there is a gas leak at home, here are steps to take:
- Open up windows and doors
- Do not ignite any flames or sparks
- Switch off lights, appliances and fans
- Switch off the gas bottle valve by turning it clockwise
- Get yourself and your family outside
- Call 1800 GAS LEAK (1800 427 532) if you smell or suspect a gas leak near the gas metre itself
- Call Ken Hall Plumbers Emergency Service which is available 24x7 on 8364 5855 if you suspect the leak is near the hot water system, space heater or gas cooker, or anywhere else inside the home.
Have peace of mind at home this winter – what to do next
A gas heater that is maintained and situated in a well-ventilated area is a safe option to warm your home.
A gas heater service includes cleaning, inspection of the heat exchanger for cracks, pilot light problems, combustion emission check, carbon monoxide testing and more.
A carbon monoxide detector is the only way you will ever know if there is a gas leak. Our qualified and licensed gas fitters will install a battery operated CO detector and ensure it is operating properly before they leave the premises.