Heaters and fireplaces

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What are electrical goods?

Electrical goods are machines powered by a form of energy known as electricity.  They are used in households to perform a range of everyday tasks, such as boiling a kettle or blow drying your hair.

What are heaters and fireplaces?

There are a number of heating appliances available that provide warmth in the home. They include electric, oil-filled, gas, charcoal and although not commonly used today, kerosene heaters. Fireplaces and potbelly stoves are also used to produce heat. Some of them operate with open flames while others generate heat that can be controlled.

How may a child be injured?

Burns:

Children may sustain burn injuries when coming into contact with a heating appliance, hot coals or gaining access to flames.

A child can receive a flame burn if the heater or fireplace comes into contact with flammable items such as night clothes, curtains, paper, carpet etc.

Slips and trips:

A child may trip if heaters are positioned in traffic areas in the home or where cords are placed inappropriately.

Electrocutions:

A child may receive an electrical shock or be electrocuted if allowed to come into contact with a faulty heating appliances or frayed electrical cords.

Poisoning

A child may suffer from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning if outdoor heaters or barbecues are used inside or in enclosed spaces. Poorly installed heaters or those that aren’t vented correctly can also lead to CO poisoning.

Respiratory issues

Exposure to air pollutants from wood and gas heaters that are not flued can cause respiratory irritations, worsen asthma and increase the risk of lung disease.1 Unflued gas heaters can produce harmful air pollutants including CO and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).4 Flued gas heater vents take these pollutants outside of the home. Children with asthma are more at risk of the effects of CO and NO2.

How common are these injuries?

Between 2005 and 2013, 375 children under the age of five years, were hospitalised in NSW, as a result of burns from heaters.2

Winter is the most dangerous time for fires in the home, with 43% of fire fatalities occurring in winter.3 Common causes of home fires include faulty electric blankets, heaters, open fires, lint left in clothes dryer filters, cooking left unattended, and faults caused by overloaded power boards.

Is there a Law or Australian Standard for heaters?

The law, in NSW, states that all electrical goods sold must meet the requirements of the Electricity (Consumer Safety) Act 2004 (NSW) and its Regulations. This legislation covers the distribution of safe electrical appliances and other electrical goods which must be tested and approved before they can be sold. All approved electrical goods must display an approval mark, as shown below.

Type of approval marks

Example

NSW Fair Trading

NSW xxxxx on articles approved after 24 February 2005.

N xxxxx on articles approved before 24 February 2005.

Other State Government agencies

Q xxxxx,  ESO xxxxx,

V xxxxx, ESV xxxxx,

S xxxxx, T xxxxx

Regulatory Compliance Mark (RCM)

Regulatory Compliance Mark for electrical heaters

SAI Global Certification Services Pty Ltd

(ACN 108 716 669)

SAI TE EA xxxxxxx    or

SAI SMK EA xxxxxx   or

SAI-xxxxxx-EA

The Australian Gas Association (AGA)

(ACN 004 206 044)

AGA xxxxxx EA   or

AGA xxxxxx G EA

International Testing and Certification Services Pty Ltd

A/xxxxxx/EA

SGS Systems and Services Certification Pty Ltd

(ACN 060 156 014)

SGSEA xxxxxx   or

SGS-xxxxxx-EA

SAA Approvals Pty Ltd

(ACN 125 451 327)

SAA xxxxxx EA

Testing and Certification Australia

TCA xxxxxx EA

UL International New Zealand Limited

(NZ Incorporation Number 1983441)

U xxxxxx EA

TUV Rheinland Australia Pty Ltd

(ACN 124 175 953)

TUV xxxxxx EA

BSI Group (Australia and New Zealand) Pty Ltd

BSI-xxxxxx-EA

Global Mark Pty Ltd

GMA-xxxxxx-EA

Market Access (AUS) Pty Ltd trading as Certification Body Australia

CBA xxxxxx   or

CBA-xxxxxx-EA

Australian Safety Approval

ASA-xxxxxx-EA

Outdoor heaters

Any outdoor heater with an integrated gas cylinder that has a heating source less than 1.8 metres from the ground is banned from sale in NSW. This is because their low height creates a risk of burns to children and they are often brought indoors which is unsafe and can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Room heaters

The law, in Australia, states that all electrical heaters sold must comply with the relevant Australian Standards as listed:

  • AS/NZS 60335.2.30:2009 Household and similar electrical appliances - Safety - Particular requirements for room heaters
  • AS/NZS 60335.2.102:2004 – Household and similar electrical appliances - Safety - Particular requirements for gas, oil and solid-fuel burning appliances having electrical connections.
  • AS 4558-2000 (AG 108-2011) – Decorative gas log and other fuel effect appliances.
  • AS 4553 / AG 103 Gas space heating appliances.
  • AS/NZS 2286:2001 - space heaters guard for use with domestic comfort heating appliances.

Gas heaters

All gas appliances for sale in NSW, including gas heaters, must be marked with an Australian recognised certification label. Images of these labels are shown below.

Gas Australian recognised certification label for heaters and fireplaces

Gas Australian recognised certification label for heaters and fireplaces

Wood heaters

The law, in NSW, states that council approval is required to install a wood heater or fireplace as per as per Section 68 of the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW). This is to make sure they are installed and operated correctly.

The law, in Australia, states that all wood fireplaces made after 1992 must comply with the following Australian Standards:

  • AS/NZS 4013: 2014 Domestic solid fuel burning appliances—Method for determination of flue gas emission to ensure smoke emissions are within a reasonable and safe limit.
  • AS/NZS 2918: 2001 Domestic solid fuel burning appliances – Installation.

First aid for burns

  • Use cool running water on a burn for 20 minutes.

This will stop the burning process and cool the burn. Cool running water can be useful within three hours of a burn.

  • Call 000 or seek medical help if you are unsure.
  • Never use ice, iced water, cream, toothpaste or butter on a burn as they can make the burn worse.
  • Burn creams do not cool the burn and must not be used instead of cool running water.

 

Remember:

  • Install a guard around the heater or fireplace.  A wire grill or other protection is essential to prevent fingers or materials getting too close when it is hot.
  • Do not dry clothing items by placing them over a heater or fireplace.
  • Always keep heaters and fireplaces in a safe working condition and replace missing controls.  Never operate something that is damaged.
  • Install and maintain at least one smoke detector on each floor of your home.

Electric heaters

  • Purchase a heater that meets the Australian Standards and has an acceptable approval mark on it.
  • Store the heater in a stable position by placing it only on a level floor surface - never place heaters on elevated surfaces such as cabinets, tables etc.
  • Locate the heater so it will not be knocked over or block your exit in case of fire. The heater should be placed away from traffic areas such as doorways and hallways and should be placed at least one metre away from anything that might catch fire such as clothing, furniture, curtains, etc.
  • Avoid using extension cords unless absolutely necessary and do not overload power points or power boards.
  • Switch off heating appliances when leaving the house or when sleeping.
  • To prevent electrocution, electric heaters must be kept away from water. Never touch an electric heater if you are wet.

Gas heaters

  • If you prefer to use a gas heater, make sure it is a flued heater.

Outdoor heaters

  • Never use an outdoor heater indoors or in an enclosed space.

Wood fireplaces

  • Check your heater complies with AS/NZS 2918:2001
  • Regularly clean your chimney.
  • Never leave a fire burning or smouldering overnight.
  • Contact your local council for approval to install a wood heater and make sure it is installed by a qualified tradesperson.

References

1. NSW Health (2012) Wood burning heaters and your health. Available from: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/factsheets/Pages/wood-smoke.aspx

2. SBIS (2014) Unpublished data.

3. Fire and Rescue NSW (n.d) Home Fire Safety. Available from: http://www.fire.nsw.gov.au/page.php?id=879

4. NSW Health (2004) Unflued gas heaters. Available from: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/factsheets/Pages/unflued-gas-he...