The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association (GAMA) are warning people to have their vented gas space heaters professionally inspected every year to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.|
According to the CPSC, improper venting is the primary cause of CO poisoning from propane and natural gas space heaters. If the heater is not vented properly, not vented at all, or if the vent is blocked, rusted or corroded, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can enter the home causing sickness and death. CO can also be produced if the heater is not properly set up and adjusted for the type of gas used and altitude at which it is installed.
"Vented space heaters provide safe, energy-efficient heat," said C. Reuben Autery, president of GAMA. "In order to maintain their safety, space heaters should be installed by a professional contractor and inspected every year. In addition to identifying and correcting problems with the venting, professionals are familiar with local codes." The CPSC and GAMA warn people not to install used space heaters.
"Each year, carbon monoxide poisoning kills more than 200 people and sends 5,000 more to the hospital emergency rooms," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "Many of these poisonings can be avoided if consumers work with home heating professionals to make sure their appliances are properly installed."
Carbon monoxide is extremely dangerous because it is invisible and odorless, and its symptoms are similar to common illnesses like the flu. Accidents are often fatal when dangerous levels of CO enter the home while people are sleeping. Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms include headache, dizziness, sleepiness, nausea, vomiting and confusion.
According to Autery, the best time to have a heater professionally inspected is prior to the heating season. "Problems with the vent can develop if the heater goes a few months without being used, like rusting, clogging with loose bricks, even birds nests. We can't emphasize enough the importance of annual inspections," he added.
For free information about vented gas heater safety, call 1-800-603-9293. Check your phone book for a qualified heating and air conditioning contractor or contact your local fuel supplier.(NAPSI)
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