If gas doesn't burn properly carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas which is very poisonous. The human body doesn't recognise its presence and it can kill you before you know it is there. It is often called 'the silent killer'.
If you have a gas appliance in your home that is faulty or not properly maintained, your family could be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
In May 2010, Chase and Tyler Robinson, aged 8 and 6, died from carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty gas heater in their home. The cause was found to be a gas heater that was producing carbon monoxide because it had not been properly serviced and maintained. Now their mother is campaigning for people to be aware of the dangers and be gas safe, to prevent further deaths and has established the Chase and Tyler Foundation.
The Office of the Technical Regulator urges people with indoor gas appliances and landlords who rent out homes with indoor gas appliances to have them serviced every two years to avoid this problem repeating.
Watch Today Tonight's Gas Heater Warnings video (4 minutes).
A very small amount of carbon monoxide is always produced by the combustion of gas, which is safe if the appliance is used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions and is not faulty. If a gas appliance or installation is faulty then there is a risk that very high or deadly levels of carbon monoxide may occur.
There are a number of easy ways to protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning:
| A blue gas flame burning yellow can be|
a sign of carbon monoxide production
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may occur when using, or immediately after using a gas appliance, include:
If you feel alright when you are out in the fresh air but experience any of the symptoms listed above when you operate a gas appliance or heater in your home, seek immediate medical attention and tell your doctor that you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning.
To determine if there is any carbon monoxide in your blood, the doctor will need to do a blood test. If the results confirm there is carbon monoxide in your blood, stop using your gas appliances at home immediately and organise for a licensed gas fitter to check and service them.
Extreme carbon monoxide poisoning may lead to confusion, loss of consciousnesses (this can occur quickly if the level of carbon monoxide is high) and even death.
Some people are especially sensitive or susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning including:
To treat a person who is suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, move them to a well ventilated, gas-free area. Call emergency services on 000 and start the resuscitation procedure, being careful not to inhale exhausted air from the patient.
If you are concerned about carbon monoxide levels in your home, workplace or other area, contact a licensed gas fitter who should be able to test the levels for you.
The Australian Government's Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities - Air toxics and indoor air quality in Australia provides health guidance on safe exposure levels of carbon monoxide including: