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Reduce the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning by having your heaters serviced

Victorians suffering flu-like symptoms are urged to be aware of more than just coronavirus (COVID19) this winter with unserviced open flued gas heaters potentially venting dangerous carbon monoxide into homes.

Over the past three years, Energy Safe Victoria’s (ESV) Be Sure campaign has prompted more Victorians to have their heaters checked by a licensed plumber accredited to service Type A appliances, however, there are still some who are yet to act on this important message.

ESV is also supporting the Department of Health’s focus on raising awareness among GPs about carbon monoxide poisoning, as symptoms can be mistaken for other common illnesses.

ESV Commissioner and Chairperson Marnie Williams said carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms were often similar to those experienced by flu sufferers. As a result, she encouraged Victorians to get their heaters serviced by a licensed gasfitter at least every two years to avoid the odourless and colourless gas seeping into their homes.

Ms Williams said open flued heaters were designed to interact with airflow in the home, drawing air from the room to support combustion, however, unserviced faulty units could result in carbon monoxide leakage.

“We are urging Victorians to ensure their families are protected this winter with tens of thousands of open flued gas heaters still being used across the state,” Ms Williams said.

“We want people to be warm in their homes but those with open flued gas heaters need to ensure their units are serviced by Type A, licensed plumbers at least every two years.”

Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Angie Bone said that while not everyone suffering flu-like symptoms had an issue with their heater, it was essential that the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning was not overlooked.

“Common symptoms such as headaches, tiredness, dizziness, or nausea can easily be put down to the flu or other conditions, but they could also be early signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. In more severe cases, confusion, shortness of breath or chest pain can be symptoms, and very high levels of carbon monoxide can be fatal.”

Dr Bone said Be Sure was a crucial campaign, helping to ensure that Victorians remained safe in their homes during the colder winter months, reminding Victorians to seek medical advice if they experience relevant symptoms.

Be Sure was launched in 2019 in the wake of the death of Greensborough woman Sonia Sofianopoulos who was found dead in her home from carbon monoxide poisoning connected to an open flued gas heater in 2017.

This message also comes during Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week, created in the wake of the tragic deaths of Mooroopna brothers Chase and Tyler Robinson who died in their home in May 2010.

According to ESV research, its 2020 campaign prompted 59 per cent of Victorian landlords, tenants, and owners to have their heaters checked. ESV is also encouraging culturally and linguistically diverse communities to be more aware of this health threat.

For more information visit esv.vic.gov.au/campaigns/carbon-monoxide.

Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week, held between Monday, 3 May and Sunday, 9 May, aims to reduce illness, injury, and death by accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.

Media contact: Adrian Bernecich 0437 729 194 | adrian.bernecich@energysafe.vic.gov.au