25 September 2023

Commissioner heats up winter warning

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ACT Fair Trading Commissioner, David Snowden has issued a warning to the community to take care when heating houses and themselves as the temperatures drop and people stay inside more.

“Using faulty heating appliances and products can lead to serious dangers or injuries,” Mr Snowden said.

Products designed to keep you warm like heaters and electric blankets are coming out of storage or being purchased.”

He said these products posed a safety risk if used or stored incorrectly, and could also become unsafe when used together, or with other products.

“Each year multiple children are admitted to hospital with burns sustained from their clothing catching fire and more than 50 people across Australia die from house fires,” Mr Snowden said.

“Many winter products and appliances can be unsafe if they are faulty, damaged or used incorrectly, and children’s clothing and nightwear with a ‘low fire danger’ label is still flammable.”

He said smoke alarms should be checked as well as heaters, electric blankets, hot water bottles and heat packs to ensure they were in good condition.

“Anyone with open-flued gas heaters should have them checked immediately by a licensed gas fitter who can test for carbon monoxide spillage,” he said.

“If gas heaters are faulty, poorly maintained or don’t get enough air to operate, they won’t burn the gas properly.

“In extreme cases they will emit toxic carbon monoxide and other lethal gases which can’t be seen and have no smell.”

Mr Snowden said carbon monoxide poisoning could happen in any home or building which uses gas heating, including newer homes.

“(They) can cause death or chronic illness,” he said.

“Hot water bottles are used widely for warmth and to help ease pain, but they can cause serious burns if left on the body for too long.

“Never lean or sit on a hot water bottle and always use a fitted cover or wrap the bottle with a towel,” he said.

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