With freezing temperatures about to chill us in full force, the heater is our best friend.
Or so we thought.
Carbon Monoxide is an extremely toxic substance that is entirely colorless and odorless. It is a silent killer in many households, causing symptoms and sickness for apparently no known reason to those experiencing them.
“We use to have the heater on during the day and at night time, but we never left it on overnight, we were extremely lucky that we never did as the outcome could have been, well, the worst possible.”
Australian student, Harriet Taloir was one of the many caught unaware of the dangers of gas heaters, only discovering the problem by chance.
“Mentally, I was quite clouded, I didn’t really know what was going on with anything including the little things, and especially with what was making me sick.”
“It was mostly by coincidence.. our gas heater was smelling like gas so we asked to have it checked. After further investigation, we found cracks on the actual heating unit which was leaking the carbon monoxide- which is odorless.”
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:
- Loss of memory
- Blurred vision
- Weight loss
With long term effects including:
- Heart disease
- Brain damage
- Loss of consciousness
“I was nauseous, tired, dizzy, my brain was foggy, I was extremely weak and overly emotional. This led to a bad diet, weight loss, fainting and overall health issues.”
And what do you usually do when you feel unwell? You stay at home and try to get better, which didn’t work for Harriet.
“I had to stop work and university. Stopped going out and seeing friends and because i was constantly at home. I had the heater going which lead to a cycle of constantly staying unwell. I stayed home and sat in it constantly. While my brother and mother continued going to school and work and not exposing themselves constantly to the gas.”
According to Product Safety Australia, some common appliances that could be leaking carbon monoxide and should be checked often are:
- barbeques that use wood, charcoal or gas
- fireplaces that use wood, charcoal or gas
- portable cookers that use gas or kerosene
- portable and/or outdoor heaters that use gas or kerosene
- flued gas heaters (under certain conditions)
- electrical generators that are diesel- or petrol-powered
- electrical equipment that is diesel- or petrol-powered (such as pumps, chainsaws, blowers and welders).
Always have your gas heater serviced by a licensed professional once every 2 years or at the start of winter to check it is not producing excess carbon monoxide.
Take it from someone with experience, Harriet doesn’t want anyone to go through what she had to.
“Please get them checked before winter. Gas heaters are recommended to be checked and serviced (as well as cleaned) every 2 years. If its been longer, for your health and safety, please get it checked by a licensed plumber.”
Now that the problem has been solved she will be on the road of recovery for quite some time.
“I’ll need to go to doctors and psychologists to get my mind and body healthy. A dietitian for my diet and my weight. Hopefully i’ll start work very slowly and look to start studying again. Its going to be a slow process, but in the end, I have to get my life back together.”
*The person in this story has had their name changed for legal reasons