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Carbon monoxide – ‘the silent killer’

A sad reminder for Australians yesterday as carbon monoxide, ‘the silent killer’, claimed a life in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley and a second family member taken to hospital for suspected poisoning.

The Age Victoria reports police are investigating the incident involving a man and woman in Churchill, after a family member called them to the house.

Because of its silent and undetectable nature, this tasteless, odourless, invisible gas is deadly and carbon monoxide poisoning is prevalent and unfortunately costs lives.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, include headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion and weakness. Long-term exposure of a low level or short-term exposure of a high level can lead to shortness of breath, loss of consciousness and death.

A carbon monoxide alarm shouldn’t be confused for a smoke alarm, and vice-versa. If you have an item in your home that gives you the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, Family First recommend you buy a carbon monoxide alarm and place it near (not immediately close to) such a source.

Carbon monoxide can be produced by gas or oil appliances like a furnace, clothes dryer, range, oven, water heater, or space heater. When appliances and vents work properly, and there is enough fresh air in your home to allow complete combustion, the trace amounts of carbon monoxide produced are typically not dangerous, however high levels of carbon monoxide can be fatal.

Preventing carbon monoxide poisoning

  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm in your home. Carbon monoxide alarms are to be used in addition to smoke alarms, not to replace them
  • Check the pilot light of your gas appliances. The pilot light should produce a blue flame. If the flame is yellow or red, turn off the appliance and contact the manufacturer or a licensed gasfitter
  • Shut off all appliances before leaving the home or while sleeping
  • Do not use outdoor gas appliances indoors, such as your BBQ or a heating device

Always have a licensed and qualified gas-fitter service all gas appliances at least every two years.

Don’t let carbon monoxide go undetected in your home. Take the necessary precautions and protect your family.

Family First products undergo stringent testing to comply with International Standards EN50291:2001 and UL2034 before they can be sold to the public.