Stay warm safely this winter

Simple safety strategies can help prevent the tragedy of carbon monoxide poisoning, and reduce air pollution from wood smoke.

Gas heater safety

Keeping your gas heater in top condition and knowing how to recognise carbon monoxide gas is important. You can’t see or smell carbon monoxide gas, but it can make you seriously unwell. Symptoms of poisoning including headache, nausea, vomiting, flushing, muscle pain and weakness, among others.

Severe cases of carbon monoxide poisoning can result in seizures, loss of consciousness or even death.

Poisoning occurs when an open-flued gas heater is faulty or blocked, so getting your gas heater tested and serviced by a qualified gasfitter at least once every two years is an essential safety measure.

Top safety tips:

  • book your regular heater service every two years
  • always turn your gas heater off at night – they should never be left running while you sleep
  • a carbon monoxide alarm can be a useful back-up measure (but doesn’t replace the need for regular gas heater servicing)
  • never use portable outdoor gas appliances, such as barbecues, indoors.

For more information, visit the Health Vic website.

Wood fire etiquette

If not operated correctly, woodfired heaters can cause respiratory problems for you and your neighbours.

Common causes of excessive smoke include burning wet, green or treated timber, not enough air (smothering the fire), and inadequate air circulation (over-stacking or using large logs).

How to use your wood heater:

  • let the fire burn brightly with a good flame
  • refuel the fire before it becomes coals and never close the vent/ choke all the way down
  • inspect and clean the flue/chimney at least once a year
  • refuel with smaller, dry logs.

For more information, visit the EPA Victoria website or call Health Services on 9278 4444.