Carbon monoxide warning follows couple's death inside car

Smarts Hill Road and Flinchs Road, near Cardigan where a couple and their dog were killed by carbon monoxide last week. PICTURE: KATE HEALY

Smarts Hill Road and Flinchs Road, near Cardigan where a couple and their dog were killed by carbon monoxide last week. PICTURE: KATE HEALY

THE death of a homeless Ballarat couple in a car last week has prompted a warning about the dangers of carbon monoxide.

Police found the deceased man, woman and their dog last Friday night. It is believed they were using a butane heater to keep warm while sleeping. 

Energy Safety director Paul Fearon has reminded people that gas appliances attached to portable gas cylinders should never be used indoors or in confined spaces. 

“This is a terrible tragedy and our thoughts go out to the families of this young couple,” Mr Fearon said.

“Gas heaters and appliances require plenty of ventilation to operate safely and should only be used according to manufacturer’s instructions. 

“The golden rule is if an appliance is attached to a portable gas bottle, don’t bring it inside. 

"Without proper ventilation, CO can build up and quickly reach fatal levels. And it’s not just the risk of CO poisoning, if you bring those things inside you can also die from oxygen depletion.” 

As a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas, CO is a silent killer that can leak from faulty, unserviced gas heaters or accumulate if there is insufficient ventilation

Over the past decade an average of one Victorian per year has been killed by CO poisoning from gas heaters that have been faulty, unserviced or used incorrectly. 

Gas heaters including wall units, decorative fireplaces, space heaters and central heating units should be serviced a minimum of every two years by a registered gasfitter. 

Mr Fearon recommends finding a registered gasfitter in your local area and booking a service to test for carbon monoxide leakage. 

For further information visit www.esv.vic.gov.au.

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