25 June 2018

NSW Health and Fair Trading are urging people who use gas heaters to warm their homes and workplaces this winter to be aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The Victorian Government is currently considering a ban on open-flue gas heaters after a woman recently died from carbon monoxide poisoning in her Melbourne home.

Most heaters sold in the New South Wales marketplace are space heaters, rather than open-flue gas heaters, and to date there have been no reported incidents in the State.

However, NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rose Webb said the tragic loss of life in Melbourne has highlighted the need for consumers to be made aware of the dangers.

“Harmful gases such as carbon monoxide can be released from open-flue heaters, outdoor heaters, burning charcoal or BBQ coal,” Ms Webb said.

Genevieve Adamo, a Senior Specialist in Toxicovigilance at the NSW Poisons Information Centre, said when breathed in carbon monoxide displaces oxygen in the bloodstream and deprives the heart, brain and vital organs of oxygen.

“Symptoms can include headaches, nausea, vomiting and dizziness, and prolonged exposure to this gas can have severe consequences including falling unconscious and in some instances death,” Ms Adamo said.

To prevent any exposure to harmful gasses from heaters, it is important to ensure:

  • the heater and gas supply are certified, properly installed and regularly serviced
  • the room where the heater is situated is well ventilated
  • the heater is turned off when you leave home or work
  • children are supervised around heaters.

If you think someone has been exposed to carbon monoxide then you should immediately contact the NSW Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26,” Ms Adamo said.

While there is currently no ban on open-flue gas heaters in NSW, Fair Trading runs regular education campaigns on the safe use of gas and other heating appliances.

For more information visit www.health.nsw.gov.au or www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au