Warning about dangerous electric heaters
NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe has issued a renewed warning on recalled and dangerous electric heaters, including the Sunair model FHS35 plastic bodied fan heater recalled in 2009.
Mr Stowe said a Sunair heater shorted out the power in a home in Balmain last week and in June last year caused a fire at a home at Beresfield near Newcastle.
In the Balmain incident, the heater was purchased about seven years ago. The homeowner said it was the second of the heaters that had blown up and the first one had only lasted about six weeks.
He said he only used the heaters rarely, in the winter months. The first of the heaters blew an expensive powerboard and the latest heater blew the earth core leakage unit in his home.
In the Beresfield incident, the heater was purchased 5-6 years ago and left in a box in a cupboard for some time. The heater ignited and caused significant smoke damage. The resident, who was at home at the time, fortunately escaped serious injury.
These types of heaters are often kept for guest or supplementary heating so anyone bringing out heaters that have been in storage should check at www.recalls.gov.au to make sure they are not using a potentially lethal product.
Mr Stowe said Woolworths Supermarkets and Big W recently recalled four models of portable room heaters with all products having poor connection on the power plugs pins that may dislodge when the plug is removed from the power outlet.
There is the risk of electric shock or fire from these products, which were sold nationally from 15 March to 17 June this year.
Mr Stowe said gas and electrical appliances and products could pose a significant risk to life and property, if used in dangerous settings or ways.
"Putting heaters too close to bedding or bringing external heaters into enclosed places has previously proved fatal for families in NSW," he said.
"Fair Trading inspects thousands of electrical and gas heaters each year and orders the removal from shelves of any unapproved and unsafe gas and electrical products. Officers return to stores or outlets, unannounced, to make sure traders are complying with the law."
Fair Trading tips for a safe winter:
* Do not place room heaters too close to furniture items in your home.
* Do not place clothing, furnishings, curtains and bedding too close to heaters.
* Do not allow children or pets to play, stand or sit too close to heaters. Supervise them at all times around heaters. Choose children's nightwear that has information about fire danger on its label.
* Don't use external heaters inside dwellings.
* Gas heaters must be certified and should be serviced every two years or in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. If a gas heater produces a pungent odour, a sooty flame or the flame is yellow in colour, stop use immediately and get it serviced. Faulty or poorly maintained gas appliances can cause the production of carbon monoxide.
* Always have a source of fresh air entering the room when using a gas heater.
* Check electric heaters are free from dust and have intact power cords and plugs.
* Older style heaters with rusted reflectors or frames can cause hot spots and be a source of danger.
* When buying electrical products, check they carry the required safety approval mark. Check these marks on the Fair Trading website at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au.
* Only use appropriately licensed installers of fixed heating appliances. Do a licence check on the Fair Trading website or call 13 32 20.
* Electric blankets should be checked each winter for any faults or fraying cords.
* Only buy hot water bottles that carry the mandatory label: WARNING - Hot water bottles can cause burns. Avoid prolonged direct contact with the skin. Hot water bottles that are old, show signs of wear or are not used properly can burst or leak, resulting in severe burns. Buy new hot water bottles every winter.