Indoor gas poisoning health warning issued

Gas Flame

Public health authorities are warning that Tasmanians are putting their lives at risk using portable fuel burning appliances in their homes.

Director of Public Health Dr Roscoe Taylor said people should never use outdoor barbecues, portable gas, camping or heat-bead stoves or charcoal grills indoors.

"Some Tasmanians are unknowingly putting their families at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in their homes, shacks, sheds, boats and caravans by misusing heating and cooking appliances," Dr Taylor said.

"You cannot see or smell some gases like carbon monoxide, but they can tragically kill in a matter of a few minutes."

Dr Taylor said there were over 200 emergency department presentations due to carbon monoxide poisoning in Tasmania in the past 10 years and almost as many hospital admissions.

Several deaths had also occurred in that time.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, nausea, dizziness and fainting, shortness of breath and confusion.

Dr Taylor said people should take particular notice if more than one person in the house had any of these symptoms.

"If you suspect gas poisoning do not wait, get everyone out of the house and stay out, then call Triple Zero (000) and ask for an ambulance."

Dr Taylor said people should only use a fuel burning or gas heater inside a house, caravan, tent, or other small space, if it had a flue or chimney or was approved for indoor use.

Householders should take care to ventilate rooms where portable gas heaters with a flexible hose that plugs into a gas outlet or floor socket were in use.

"Because portable gas heaters don't have a flue or chimney to take away gases produced in the heating process they can make the air inside your home dangerous, even deadly."

Dr Taylor said LPG cabinet heaters did not meet Australian Safety Standards and should not be used – their sale is banned in Australia.

"Make sure your heater is installed properly and regularly serviced by someone with the right qualifications, and read operating instructions carefully.

"Call the Tasmania Fire Service on 1800 000 699 if you have fire safety concerns."

For more information visit: www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/163069/Dont_get_poisoned_by_gases.pdf

For detailed information visit: www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/ohp-enhealth-unflued-gas-heater-cnt.htm

Safety tips

  • Don't use outdoor barbecues, portable gas stoves, camping stoves, charcoal grills or heat-bead stoves inside. They are for outside only.
  • Don't use gas heaters indoors unless they are approved for use inside, legally installed and serviced properly by someone with the right qualifications.
  • Don't sleep in a room with a lighted gas heater that doesn't have a flue or chimney.
  • Never use a fuel burning or gas heater anywhere inside a house, in a bedroom, bathroom, tent, caravan or other small space, unless it has a flue or chimney or is approved for indoor use.
  • Don't use a kitchen stove or oven to heat your home.
  • Don't roast coffee or smoke meat or other food with wood, coal or heat beads indoors.
Don't leave a car, truck or petrol engine running in a garage attached to your house.