Service gas heaters, says grieving mum

The mother of two boys who died of carbon monoxide poisoning in their rented Shepparton home has urged landlords to have gas heaters serviced every two years.

Eight-year-old Chase Robinson and six-year-old Tyler died in May 2010 because of an unserviced gas wall heater which emitted 500 times the safe level of carbon monoxide.

They had crawled into bed with their mother, Vanessa, who was severely affected, but survived, and is now campaigning to raise awareness.

“Carbon monoxide is a silent killer . . . you can’t see it, taste it or smell it. Faulty or unserviced gas heaters can be leaking carbon monoxide in your home unbeknownst to you,” Vanessa said.

Checks should be conducted by a gasfitter who is:

•    licensed;
•    qualified to check for carbon monoxide leakage; and
•    has a carbon monoxide analyser.

RentCover General Manager Sharon Fox-Slater said gas heaters without a mechanism to vent pollutants outdoors should be treated with particular caution.

“You can buy carbon monoxide detectors for about the same price as smoke detectors, but they aren’t always reliable and don’t remove the need have gas heaters serviced,” she warned.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be mistaken for the flu and include tiredness, shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, nausea, weakness, confusion and chest pain.

Most major brands of heater operate service hotlines.