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How to safely use a gas heater at home

Jul 19, 2023Jul 19, 2023

Updated July 7, 2023, 1:29 p.m.|By Poelano Malema

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Here is how to protect yourself while using a household gas heater in your home.

South Africa is currently experiencing cold weather conditions due to the Winter season.

In order to keep homes warm, many people use household heaters.

Household gas heaters are a popular choice, especially looking at the electricity woes that the country is facing. Not only is gas more reliable because there is no need to worry about loadshedding, but it can also be cheaper than electricity.

But even though gas heaters are fantastic to use in the home, improper use can pose a danger to your health or even result in death.

READ: Boksburg gas leak death toll climbs to 17

The first thing to look out for is to use the right gas heater. Never use an outdoor gas heater indoors. 'Using an outdoor propane gas heater inside can produce poisonous Carbon Monoxide – CO – as part of their combustion gases,' states popular gas company, Elgas.

Before using any household gas heaters, ensure your house is properly ventilated. If the room does not have air vents, it is advisable to leave a door or window slightly open to prevent indoor air pollution and possible health problems.

Some experts advise that you have a carbon monoxide gas detection alarm installed in your home before using a gas heater. This is because carbon monoxide poisoning can’t be seen, tasted or smelled. Therefore, having the alarm will assist because it will warn you of any poisonous gas or unusual build-up of carbon monoxide in your home.

Turn off your heater when you go to sleep. It is reported that sleeping with the heater on increases the levels of carbon monoxide in the room and can also lead to dry skin, conjunctivitis, and allergies.

Don't forget to service your gas heater every two years to identify if it has any faults or damages.

READ: Woman lights her husband on fire over a cellphone dispute!

Below are more safety tips from the government:

- LPG cylinders must be installed and maintained by a certified and qualified technician.

- Other flammable fuels, rubbish and dry leaves or vegetation must be cleared away from any gas cylinders to avoid a potential fire coming into contact with the cylinders. If there's a power failure, don't place a gas cylinder on the stove. This will prevent a potential explosion in case the electricity goes back on.

- Never extinguish the flame with water in case there's a leak.

- Never move a gas heater when it’s burning or hot.

- If you smell gas, turn off all gas supplies immediately, open all doors and windows and don’t smoke or switch any lights or electrical appliance on. Extinguish any naked flames and call the Fire department.

- If a gas leak is burning, turn the valve off.

- To close the valve remember: righty tighty – lefty loosey.

- Unvented heaters shouldn’t be used in small-enclosed areas, especially bedrooms because of the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning.

- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for lighting the pilot. Gas vapours may accumulate and ignite explosively, burning your face or hand.

- If needed, use matches to light the pilot, before turning on the gas to prevent gas build-up.

- Gas cylinders should be stored outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.

Remember to follow the instructions that come with your gas after you have purchased it.

READ: Five reasons to invest in a gas stove

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Image courtesy of iStock/ @Irik Bikmukhametov

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