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Staying safe with gas in the cold weather

16 June 2006
Media Release

Staying safe with gas in the cold weather

The current severe cold weather has found many people in parts of New Zealand, and especially the South Island, without electricity.

“The Energy Safety Service reminds people to make sure that if they are using gas appliances to heat their homes, and for cooking, that they need to stay safe while keeping warm,” said Liz MacPherson, Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Economic Development.

The Energy Safety Service has these tips for people using portable LPG heaters and appliances:

Test your connections
After securely connecting a new or refilled gas cylinder, apply soapy water to the cylinder connections and turn on the cylinder. If bubbles appear you have a leak. Close the valve and call an LPG service agent as soon as you can.

Safe Space
Always keep your heater at least 1 metre away from anything that could catch on fire. Put a safety guard around your heater if you have young children in your home.

Fresh Air
Keep a window open when you use your LPG heater, to help remove heater emissions, keep the air fresh and reduce condensation. Never use LPG heaters in bedrooms and bathrooms.

Use your nose
If you smell LPG, TURN OFF your heater and cylinder IMMEDIATELY. Call an LPG service agent as soon as you can.

Get a check up
Get your heater and cylinder checked before winter every year by an LPG service agent, this way you know they’re in a safe condition for winter.

“It may seem odd for us to tell people to keep a window open while they are trying to keep warm. But portable gas appliances, such as LPG heaters, draw the air they need from the space around them and discharge the waste combustion products directly into that space. To keep safe and well it’s vital to keep fresh air circulating,” said Liz MacPherson.

People should watch out for signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. While it is odourless and colourless, it is accompanied by other emissions that may produce a ‘car exhaust’ smell or watery eyes.

Low levels of carbon monoxide gas can cause tiredness, headaches, nausea, a false sense of well-being, flushed (red) skin, dizziness and vomiting. Prolonged exposure or high levels of carbon monoxide can lead to collapse, unconsciousness, or even death.

“If a person thinks they have been exposed to carbon monoxide they should move into fresh air, and seek immediate medical attention. If it can be done safely, turn off the appliance and ventilate the room,” said Liz MacPherson.

“Don’t use your gas cook-top or oven as a heater. They are not designed for unsupervised operation and, if used this way, can emit high levels of carbon monoxide,” said Liz MacPherson.

“Don’t boil a very large pot of water on a single gas burner. Boil several smaller pots (with their lids on). This reduces the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from incomplete combustion.”

Gas barbecues, patio heaters, lamps and camping appliances may produce relatively high levels of carbon monoxide and are not suitable for indoor use.

“By following these simple rules people can stay safe while keeping warm this winter,” said Liz MacPherson.


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