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Outdoor heaters, keep out

The carbon monoxide poisoning of six people in a house in Sydney this week has once again highlighted the need for care when heating our homes.

Fortunately, all members of the household – including two children – were released from hospital within a few hours. However, the incident has prompted warnings from health authorities and first responders about the dangers of using fuel-burning heating or cooking appliances indoors, or in poorly ventilated areas.

A spokesman for Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) said that the family had been using a charcoal cooker inside a granny flat on their property in Merrylands.

“Whilst we understand the family and their guests were trying to stay warm during winter and thought bringing the makeshift heating device inside was a good idea, it unwittingly put lives at risk”, Superintendent Adam Dewberry said.

“In this case, tragedy was narrowly avoided, as one of the occupants woke up feeling ill and roused the rest of the household from sleep.

“Never bring outdoor heaters or cookers inside and never rely on charcoal beads for heating in confined spaces”, he added.

Unlike wood and gas heaters that are flued or ducted to the outside to remove carbon monoxide gas, outdoor cookers and outdoor heaters are neither flued nor designed for indoor use.

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless and non-irritating gas with no warning properties so it is easy to ignore its effect. What’s more, it depletes any available oxygen, making the harmful effects of the carbon monoxide a lot swifter.

While this incident was the result of an outdoor appliance being used inside, homeowners are nevertheless advised to schedule regular maintenance and servicing of all gas heaters – at least every two years – by a licensed gasfitter as poorly-maintained gas heaters can omit carbon monoxide.

Likewise, wood heaters that have not been cleaned and maintained properly present an added risk of flue/chimney fires with the possibility of combustible materials such as built up creosote (wood tar), twigs and other debris catching fire.

Together with regular maintenance of gas and wood heaters, installing a carbon monoxide alarm is a small step towards ensuring early warning for your family’s safety.

The message from authorities remains the same, year after year: do not be tempted to take the charcoal or gas burner inside for heating, even for a short time; carry out regular maintenance of gas and wood-fired heating; and make sure fire and CO alarms are working optimally.

About Adam Nobel

Principal
M. Bus, Grad Dip Adv, B.Int Bus, LREA

adam@hugoalexander.com.au

0417 007 001

Adam is the founder and Principal of Hugo Alexander Property Group. With a previous career in advertising, 20 years experience in property investment, and 14 years in Brisbane real estate, he knows the market inside out to ensure his clients grow their wealth faster.

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