The NSW Health and Fair Trading on its latest media release to consumers , is warning anyone using a gas heater to warm their homes and workplaces, to be aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide.
This is in response to a recent fatality in Victoria where a person died from carbon monoxide poisoning from a gas heater in their Melbourne home and despite to date have been no reported incidents in NSW as most heaters sold in New South Wales are flued space heaters, rather than non-flued!
Flued space heaters Versus non-flued heaters
For the record, non-flued heaters (also often referred to as unvented heaters, “ventfree” heaters or “flueless fires”) are most often non-fixed heaters without ventilation whereas flued heaters are those that are permanently fixed and use a chimney or flue to get rid of the air pollutants and water vapours. These are produced when gas fuel is burnt. So whilst flued gas heaters vent air pollutants outside the home, unflued gas heater release them directly into the home and that has the potential to cause indoor air pollution  including carbon monoxide which displaces oxygen in the bloodstream and deprives the heart, brain and vital organs of oxygen and eventually even death .
So what should one do if they are using a non-flued gas heater?
Well for starters, allowing adequate ventilation, ensuring they are always kept clean, and making certain to have them switched off before sleeping is a good start according to the NSW Health and Fair Trading publication . This is because if operating correctly, the main emissions of a non-flued gas heater are water vapour and carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide.
But there are a few more things to keep in mind, according to the NSW Health unflued-gas heaters factsheet . They are as follows:-
Firstly, you need to make sure that the heater is the correct size for the area in your home you want to heat (any retailer should be able to determine the type and size of heater you need).
Then, you must ensure that the heater has an electronic ignition and if possible a safety systems that can shut the heater off when there is not enough fresh air.
You must use a qualified tradesperson for the installation as improperly installed appliances can emit higher levels of air pollutants (not to mention they will pose a fire hazard).
You also need to check that the room you are heating has air vents and that these are not blocked! If they don’t, you must always keep a door or a window open to allow the movement of air in and out of the room.
You need to also be aware of the instructions for the use of the appliance and to read and follow any warning labels. If equipped with a safety device, you need to make the effort to understand how it works and why it may shut off an appliance.
And last but not least, you should conduct regular inspection and maintenance of your heater as heaters in poor working order release higher amounts of combustion pollutants into your home.
BUT above all else, you should always keep an eye out for the early symptoms which include headaches, nausea, vomiting and dizziness…
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