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21 safety guidelines for homeowners with gas heaters

11 May 2016

At this time of the year when we start to notice the chill in the air, many of us reach for the ignition switch on our gas heaters. It is essential, however, to first take the time to make sure that we know our safety tips and that our gas heaters are safe to use. 

Always follow manufacturer guidelines carefully to avoid incidents like carbon monoxide poisoning and household fires.

Antonio Vannucci- Smit, Owner of IONIC Gas Plumbing Electrical, says as with all gas appliances, it is recommended that the heater is serviced on a regular basis by a qualified gas technician, in line with the instructions provided by the manufacturer. 

Once your gas heater is securely connected to your gas bottle and ready for use, it is important to make sure that it is operated safely. 

Antonio shares a few pointers that homeowners should consider when using their gas heaters this winter. 

1. Always turn your heater off before going to bed or leaving your property. 

2. Make sure all the components like the heater, regulator and hose connectors of your unit are well-maintained.

3. Do not use aerosols or flammable cleaning liquids or sprays in close proximity to the heater.

4. Avoid sitting or standing too close to your heater, it might feel nice and toasty but gas burns are no joke. 

5. Always ensure that the room in use is well-ventilated. If it becomes stuffy, open windows and doors to allow fresh air in immediately. Carbon monoxide is a colourless and odourless gas that can go completely unnoticed yet cause serious illness or, in severe cases, death due to poisoning. 

6. Always follow manufacturer guidelines carefully. 

Keep children and pets away from gas heaters - those tiny fingers or paws might just wander into the wrong place.

7. Never place clothes or other items like towels over your heater. We have all been guilty of this at one time or another, whether it is heating up a towel while showering or socks before going to bed. Remember that this is dangerous as a fire can start without anyone noticing. 

8. Do not move your unit while it is in use. First turn it off and wait for it cool down a little before moving it around. 

9. Keep children and pets away from gas heaters - those tiny fingers or paws might just wander into the wrong place. 

10. Keep gas heaters at least one metre away from all flammable objects including furniture, curtains, books and boxes. 

11. Portable gas heater hoses or power cords should not be extended through a doorway into other rooms. A door could accidentally be closed and cause a leak in the hose. 

12. Remember to check the LP Gas safety association’s website to make sure your appliance is listed as a safe appliance. 

Remember to look out for the LP Gas Safety association sticker on your appliance or its packaging. 

Do not use outdoor gas heaters indoors. Outdoor gas heaters may create carbon monoxide.

13. Most manufacturers suggest a periodic inspection or service of the appliance or installation. Two years is the most common recommendation. Always refer back to your owner’s manual. 

14. Do not use outdoor gas heaters indoors. Outdoor gas heaters may create carbon monoxide. 

Carbon monoxide can make you dizzy, give you headaches or flu-like symptoms, and extended exposure can be fatal. 

12. This may sound like a joke to most people but it is an actual thing that people do quite regularly: do not use your gas oven to heat up your home. The things that could go wrong are too numerous to name. 

What to do if you smell gas in your home 

13. When you smell gas, please do not light flames or create sparks - this includes lighting a cigarette. 

14. Don’t operate light switches, appliances or telephones. 

15. Leave the area with the doors and windows wide open. 

Do not use an electrical fan to try and blow away any leaking gas.

16. Shut off the gas at the gas bottle valve by turning it clockwise. 

17. Don't turn it back on until it has been checked by a qualified gas technician. 

18. Do not return inside your home until the gas has had time to dissipate. 

19. Do not use an electrical fan to try and blow away the gas. 

20. Remember that LPG is heavier than air and can accumulate in low areas. 

21. Get your system checked by your local gas installer.

Interesting fact

Natural gas is odourless, so energy companies add the smell of rotten eggs (mercaptan) to help homeowners detect it. This is also an effective way to detect a gas leak at home. 

Always remember that if you service your gas heater or installation regularly and use it correctly, it should be safe and economical to use.
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