Energy poverty - mother and child unable to afford heating. Help us by donating today

We need your help - donate today!

We are seeking donations from the public and local businesses which will go towards our Energy Poverty Project, providing home safety packs for our most disadvantaged community members. 

Carbon monoxide is undetectable. It is a poisonous gas you cannot see, taste or smell and is a silent killer. In low-level exposure cases, it causes flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, burning eyes, confusion, drowsiness and even loss of consciousness. In high exposure cases, carbon monoxide poisoning can result in brain damage and death.

Gas or fuel-burning appliances not maintained or the operation of outdoor gas or fuel-burning appliances within confined spaces can produce carbon monoxide from the incomplete burning of fuels such as natural gas, wood, propane, heating oil, kerosene, coal, or charcoal.

The accident highlighted a lack of knowledge about gas and fuel-burning appliance safety and carbon monoxide poisoning by not only the Australian community but also within the government sectors, related energy/plumbing industries, as well as emergency services.

The Chase and Tyler Foundation was founded in 2011 and is a national non-profit organisation with deductible gift recipient (DGR) status. The foundation is dedicated to preventing death, injury, or illness by accidental carbon monoxide poisoning through awareness, education, support services, advocacy, partnerships and research.

Energy poverty is an increasing problem in Australia, impacting over 42,000 low-income households. Winter is a time that disadvantaged community members experience the most hardship, with significant negative impacts on not only household finances, but also on the health and wellbeing of individuals within households. Many community members go without heating, while others use unsafe heating options (unserviced gas heaters, gas stovetops, gas ovens, patio heaters, LPG BBQ’s, charcoal, etc.) to keep warm, which leaves them vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Each home safety pack will include a queen size plush blanket, a carbon monoxide alarm, fridge magnet, and an educational brochure containing information about carbon monoxide poisoning and how to prevent it.

All donations over $2.00 are tax deductible.

Please help us by either donating or sharing our fundraiser. Click here to donate 

Happy Mother's Day!

The greatest role you will ever play is to be a mother.

To our amazing mothers — we love you and thank you for everything. 💕💕


Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week


29 APRIL 2019

Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week (29 April – 5 May 2019) is an annual national event run by the Chase and Tyler Foundation raising awareness of fuel-burning appliance safety across Australia reducing illness, injury and death by accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.

This year, the foundation is partnering with Kidsafe Victoria and the Monash Children’s Hospital for the launch of the 2019 Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week. The launch, held on Monday 29 April, located at the Monash Children’s Hospital.

This is a free public event held from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, where the public will learn about gas and fuel-burning appliance safety and carbon monoxide poisoning prevention. There will be free show bags and carbon monoxide alarms given away on the day, as well as the Metropolitan Fire Brigade who will be in attendance giving families and children the chance to meet firefighters and see the fire engines up close.

We will have a variety of gas appliances displayed by Energy Safe Victoria at the event to inform community members that all gas and fuel-burning appliances are a risk of spilling carbon monoxide, if not serviced regularly or used within the manufacturer's guidelines. Qualified gasfitters will also be on site to provide technical advice.

The Chase and Tyler Foundation’s Founder and Executive Director, Vanessa Robinson said “With winter fast approaching, we’re encouraging all community members to ensure their gas and fuel-burning appliances have been serviced by a qualified, licensed ‘Type A’ gasfitter within the last 1-2 years to ensure their appliances are safe to use before winter”.

Monash Children's Hospital Quote

“The symptoms tend to be non-specific and can look like flu or gastro," said Dr Tobias Van Hest, Emergency Physician at Monash Children’s Hospital. "The most common symptom is headaches, but victims could experience any number of complaints including dizziness, nausea, vomiting, tiredness, confusion, difficulty breathing, muscle cramps and abdominal pains. Young babies and children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with heart or lung diseases are most at risk.”

Quote from Kidsafe Victoria

Jason Chambers, General Manager of Kidsafe Victoria, highlighted the dangers posed by carbon monoxide and the importance of people being aware of what they can do to reduce the risk in their homes and communities: "Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas with fumes impossible to see, taste or smell. Any appliances that use gas, oil, kerosene, or wood can produce carbon monoxide - operating these appliances in poorly vented or enclosed spaces or where vents, chimney and flue-pipes are blocked can increase the chances of carbon monoxide being produced."

To learn more about the dangers, symptoms and preventative measures of carbon monoxide poisoning, go to

For further information, interviews and images, please contact:

Vanessa Robinson  
Founder and Executive Director
The Chase and Tyler Foundation
P: 0459 484 821

Kidsafe Victoria
Jason Chambers
General Manager
P: 03 9036 2306

Fast Facts

What is carbon monoxide (CO) and who is at risk?

  • CO is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas which interferes with the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen. Resulting in rapid damage to the heart and brain from oxygen starvation causing illness, injury and death.
  • CO is produced in high concentrations by incomplete combustion of various fuel sources such as coal, wood, charcoal, oil, kerosene, propane and natural gas.
  • The most common cause a failure to service and maintain the appliance, which can lead to blocked burners or flue, and inadequate ventilation in the room. Once CO is produced in dangerous levels, it can spill from the appliance and enter your home undetected.
  • All people and animals are at risk for CO poisoning, though certain groups such as pregnant women, unborn babies, children, the elderly and people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or respiratory problems are more susceptible to its effects.


  • It causes flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, burning eyes, confusion, drowsiness and even loss of consciousness.
  • Not only can CO kill, but prolonged exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide can lead to long term chronic health problems. In very severe cases, CO poisoning can result in brain damage and death.

How to stay safe:

  • Gas and fuel-burning appliances are required to be serviced by a type ‘A’ licensed and registered gasfitter every 1-2 years.
  • Check for danger signs that your gas and fuel-burning appliances aren’t working correctly, e.g. lazy yellow or orange flames instead of crisp blue ones, black marks/stains on or around the appliance and too much condensation in the room.
  • Have your gas and fuel-burning appliance serviced every1-2 years by a Type 'A' licensed and registered gasfitter
  • Make sure the gasfitter you choose uses a carbon monoxide analyser
  • Never use kitchen or bathroom extraction fans while operating an open-flued gas heater
  • Install an audible carbon monoxide alarm as a secondary line of defence
  • Ensure all flues, vents and chimneys are unblocked and functioning properly
  • Do not bring outdoor gas and fuel-burning appliances indoors or within confined spaces

About the Chase and Tyler Foundation

The Chase and Tyler Foundation (CTF) is the only not for profit charity within Australia, dedicated to providing a national preventative health and safety effort on domestic gas and fuel-burning appliance safety, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning prevention and energy poverty. We do this by awareness, education, advocacy, research and services to financially disadvantaged community members.

The foundation was established by Vanessa Robinson after her sons, Chase 8 and Tyler 6, died from accidental CO poisoning in May 2010. This was caused by a faulty unserviced gas heater, which spilled deadly carbon monoxide into their rental property, killing Chase and Tyler and severely injuring Vanessa.

The accident highlighted not only a lack of knowledge about gas and fuel-burning appliance safety and CO poisoning by the Australian community but also within government, industry and emergency services.

Since the CTF’s inception, we’ve been critical in raising the level of awareness across Australia making a real difference in community health and safety.

Partnership Announcement with Brooks Australia

Monday, 4 March 2019


The Chase and Tyler Foundation is pleased to welcome a new important partnership with Brooks Australia, a family owned and operated company that has kept Australian families and properties safe with high quality, reliable, home safety products for over 45 years.

The Chase and Tyler Foundation’s Founder and Executive Director, Vanessa Robinson, said the partnership provides a number of opportunities for the foundation.

"We're very excited to be partnering with Brooks Australia," said Ms. Robinson

“Brooks Australia financial support assists the foundation to engage with the local communities and to increase awareness of gas and fuel burning appliance safety, carbon monoxide poisoning prevention as well as allowing us to provide support to community members at risk from energy poverty.”

“We thank Brooks Australia for their support and we look forward to working with them on the journey to zero deaths from accidental carbon monoxide across Australia.”

Brooks Australia is proud to partner with the Chase and Tyler Foundation and assist with their efforts to raise awareness around the dangers of carbon monoxide.

The foundation born out of a tragic event highlighted the need to raise the public consciousness around the need for proper maintenance of gas and fuel burning appliances and the dangers associated with carbon monoxide. It is clear that there is a lack of knowledge in the market and we look forward to working with the foundation towards zero deaths in Australia from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.

The work done by Vanessa Robinson, the foundation and its board are highly commendable and it we are excited by our partnership.

- Ends –

For further information:

Vanessa Robinson
Founder and Executive Director
The Chase and Tyler Foundation
P: 0459 484 821

Shane Sweep
National Sales Manager (AU/NZ)
Brooks Australia
P: 0418 641 808

Safety Alert - Gas Log Fires

Do you have one of the following gas fire logs?

  • Regency i31 supplied by Fireplace Products Australia Pty Ltd
  • Regency F38 and FG38 supplied by Fireplace Products Australia Pty Ltd – branded and supplied by Masport prior to 2006 (excludes LP model)
  • Nectre 2000 (manufactured from 2007) supplied by Glen Dimplex Australia Pty Ltd, or a
  • Real Flame Pyrotech (manufactured from 2012) also supplied by Glen Dimplex Australia Pty Ltd?

People with these gas log fires in their homes need to contact the supplier and get them checked by a qualified gasfitter immediately. Laboratory tests show that under certain circumstances these heaters produce too much carbon monoxide.

If your heater is affected it will need modification to prevent the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Regency I31
Real Flame Pyrotech
Regency F38-FG38
Nectre 2000
What do I do?

If you have the Regency gas log fire model I31 or F38/FG38 (previously branded and supplied by Masport prior to 2006), contact the supplier Fireplace Products Australia (FPA) at:

The F38/FG38 excludes LP models.

If you have one a Real Flame Pyrotech (manufactured from 2012) or a Nectre 2000(manufactured from 2007) gas log fire, contact the supplier Glen Dimplex Australia at:

If you have one of these heaters do not use it until it can be tested by a qualified gasfitter. If  heating is required, please use other sources. DO NOT bring outdoor gas appliances inside.

What happens next?

The supplier will organise a qualified gasfitter to carry out a safety check on your heater and will meet the costs of the modification, if it is required. There may be some costs to you if poor maintenance or other issues unrelated to the modification are present.

If the heater is spilling dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide or other exhaust gasses, it may have to be cut of until it can be repaired or replaced.

More information

Follow the links below for more information on gas heaters and open flued systems.

Article by ESV

Close call for Hawthorn family as pool heater leaks carbon monoxide

A family is in hospital after an incorrectly-installed pool heater flue leaked carbon monoxide, leaving some of them unconscious.

The two adults, both in their 40s, and two children were found by emergency services at a Hawthorn home about 8am on Thursday.

The adults and a preschool-aged boy were drowsy and suffering loss of consciousness as they were taken to hospital.

A primary school-aged girl was taken to hospital in a stable condition, Victoria Ambulance confirmed.

Metropolitan Fire Brigade Commander Anthony McCoy said it was a “close call for the family”.

“It’s a timely reminder for all community members to ensure gas appliances are properly installed and maintained,” Cmdr McCoy said in a statement.

Firefighters used specialist air testing equipment and found traces of carbon monoxide.

Energy Safety director Paul Fearon said it appeared the family had suffered “immediate symptoms of CO poisoning” and symptoms included headaches, dizziness and nausea.

The Victorian Building Authority will investigate the incident

Know the drill before you grill - ESV BBQ safety

Barbecue safety – Know the drill before you grill

Last summer, there were over 100 dangerous barbecue fires involving LP Gas cylinders in Victoria. That’s more than one fire every day of summer. Some of those barbecue fires turned into house fires, resulting in serious burns and the loss and damage of family homes.

So, to stay safe, know the drill before you grill.

Get into the habit of doing a soapy water check. Squirt your gas connection with soapy water to make sure there are no leaks. If no bubbles appear, you’re safe to use.

The drill

Follow these simple steps every time you use your barbecue:

  1. Inspect the hose for signs of perishing or cracking – if the hose is cracked or perished, don’t use the BBQ until the hose has been replaced.
  2. Use a squeezy bottle filled with soapy water to check the connection for gas leaks (use dishwashing liquid and water). Squirt the connection with the suds from the soapy water solution.
    – Bubbles will form if gas is escaping.
    – Leak-test the connection to the cylinder every time you connect it or change cylinders.
    – Serious leaks are common and can be very dangerous.
    – Check and leak test the connection every time you barbecue.
  3. If no bubbles appear, you’re safe to cook.

What to do if you see bubbles:

  • Switch off the gas immediately
  • Re-check the hose to make sure it hasn’t perished
  • Re-check connections to make sure they are tight – get into the habit of doing this regularly
  • Check that the O ring on the connection hasn’t perished
  • Check the gas cylinder for damage
    – Note: you can’t refill an LP Gas cylinder if it hasn’t been tested for over 10 years, or if the cylinder has been damaged. Always exchange LP Gas cylinders at a reputable supplier.
  • Re-test with soapy water, and if bubbles still form turn off the gas. Your LP Gas cylinder or hose may need replacing.

Get into the habit of doing a soapy water check. Know the drill before your grill.

Storing or transporting LP Gas cylinder

Remember to close the valves on LP Gas cylinders whenever they are not in use, particularly when they are being transported.

When transporting an LP Gas cylinder, ensure that it is securely restrained in your vehicle – use a sturdy container, such as a milk crate, to keep the cylinder upright and steady. Make sure you have good ventilation in your vehicle.

Worksafe Victoria has some useful information about transporting LP Gas cylinders.

Get a free soapy water bottle

Order a free soapy water bottle from our merchandise page, and we’ll post it to you to keep with your barbecue kit.

A big thank you to the Fraser Coast Hackers!

A big thank you to the Fraser Coast Hackers (FCH) who held their annual Charity Golf Day at the Maryborough Golf Club and chose to support the Chase and Tyler Foundation.

FCH raised much needed funds for the foundation and have also advised that they will continue to support us each year — which is fabulous!

A big thank you to the team and the great turn out! See you next year.

Battle against deadly CO poisoning from gas heaters heading to Melbourne

VBA Media Release

A statewide program to enhance the skills of plumbers who install and service gas heaters, ensuring households are not at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning, heads to Melbourne next week.

Training sessions will be held in Melbourne on Monday, 27 August and Tuesday, 28 August.

The Victorian Building Authority, along with Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) and Master Plumbers, will host a series of training sessions providing expert advice to registered and licensed gasfitters and Type A servicing plumbers on the latest techniques to accurately test for carbon monoxide spillage and identify negative pressure situations.

Almost 1900 gasfitters have already registered for the eight free training sessions being held in Melbourne early next week, but some places are still available across the two days.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Building Authority, Sue Eddy, said the VBA was pleased to be working with ESV and Master Plumbers to deliver these training sessions, which will be held throughout the state.

“This roadshow is the largest plumber training program ever undertaken by the VBA,” Ms Eddy said.

“We invite all 21,000 plumbers registered or licensed in gasfitting and Type A servicing to take this opportunity to enhance their training, build on their confidence and protect the safety of Victorians.”

Effective testing and maintenance of gas appliances is an important way of managing risks related to carbon monoxide spillage and other factors that might impact their safe operation. All gas heaters have the potential to spill or leak deadly carbon monoxide. This includes central heating units, space heaters, wall furnaces and decorative log fires.

These safety precautions are particularly important as Victorian homes change and become better weather sealed and more energy efficient. The VBA and ESV recommend that all gas water heaters, space heaters and central heaters are serviced at least every two years by a registered or licensed gasfitter or a Type A servicing plumber.

Training seminars have already been held in Bairnsdale, Wodonga, Shepparton, Traralgon, Mildura, Bendigo, Ballarat, Horsham, Warrnambool and Geelong at no cost to practitioners.

Training seminars will be held in Melbourne at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from 7am Monday morning until 7pm on Tuesday evening.

As part of ongoing training for all Victorian gasfitters and Type A servicing plumbers, the VBA, along with ESV and Master Plumbers, has released a short instructional video on negative pressure and carbon monoxide spillage, as part of its new Carbon Monoxide Safety Program. The video provides a step-by-step guide to conducting a carbon monoxide spillage test, demonstrates how to recognise and combat negative air pressure, and provides safety tips for practitioners who carry out these important tests.

Practitioners and their apprentices can register for a training session by visiting the Victorian BuildingAuthority’s website or calling 1300 815 127.


Media Contact:
Karen Lyon, VBA Communications Manager – Phone: 03 9618 9316. Email:

Website: Twitter: @VicBuilding


Open-flue gas heaters are potentially deadly and should be phased out, coroner finds

Hundreds of thousands of potentially deadly heaters across Australia should be banned and gas fitters forced to complete up to date carbon monoxide training, a Victorian coroner has recommended
Key points
  • Ms Sofianopoulos died from carbon monoxide poisoning from her gas heater
  • Coroner recommends open-flue gas heaters be phased out
  • There are hundreds of thousands of open-flue heaters across Australia

The recommendations came after an investigation into the death of 62-year-old Sonia Sofianopoulos, who died of carbon monoxide poisoning in her Greensborough unit in July 2017, due to a Vulcan Heritage heater.

Plumbing contractors, employed by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), carried out non-compliant carbon monoxide testing in the unit two years before Ms Sofianopolous's death, Coroner Jacqui Hawkins found.

DHHS was also only carrying out heater servicing every five years in its 70,000 residences instead of every two as recommended by the Victorian regulator, Energy Safe Victoria (ESV). However, she made no adverse findings against DHHS or the plumbing contractors.

She found Ms Sofianopoulos's death was the result of a confluence of events, including her heater leaking carbon monoxide into the room while at least one exhaust fan was on in her unit.

Coroner Hawkins also found the dwelling was well sealed due to DHHS retrofitting the villa with weather seals on the doors and windows, so the carbon monoxide couldn't dissipate. Open-flue gas heaters are only meant to be used in well ventilated spaces.

The coroner recommended a national regulator prevent the sale of new open-flue heaters across Australia in order to phase out the heater type.

She recommended that up to date training be mandatory for all gas fitters as part of their licence.

Currently, plumbers and gasfitters do not need to do ongoing training to remain registered, despite standards around carbon monoxide testing constantly changing.

Coroner Hawkins said the regulator ESV had not optimally communicated the latest changes in testing to gasfitters, and videos depicting the outdated test were on its website until three months ago.

Family welcomes coroner's findings

When Ms Sofianopoulos was found dead in her Greensborough public housing unit, her Vulcan Heritage heater was on and there was a pot of chickpeas simmering on the stove.

Emergency services initially told her daughters, Eleni Kontogiorgis and Stella Sofianopoulos, she had most likely had a heart attack.

It was not until three-and-a-half months later, they learned in a letter from the Coroners Court she had died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

After Ms Sofianolpoulos's death, ESV tested all the heaters in the 16 unit Greensborough complex where she lived.

The carbon monoxide had leaked from her Vulcan heritage gas heater, which is a type of open-flue gas heater.

Fourteen units with the Vulcan heritage heater failed carbon monoxide testing.

The ABC learned Ms Sofianopoulos's neighbour, Eileen Kelly, had been suffering carbon monoxide poisoning the year before.

She requested her heater be tested twice, at the urging of her doctor, but the DHHS-contracted plumbers said nothing was wrong.

It's believed the plumbers were doing the test wrong, as they had been in Ms Sofianopoulos's unit.

Despite the alleged failings by DHHS, Ms Sofianopoulos's daughter Eleni Kontogiorgis said she was happy with the coroner's overall findings.

"I think that certain things could have been done but that's all now in hindsight so hopefully looking forward things will change and obviously we'll never anything like this again," she said.

"Overall we were happy with the recommendations the coroner made today.

"We're just hoping that these changes become mandatory and part of legislation."

She said her mother was a happy and outgoing person, with many friends.

"I don't know how to describe the loss. It's just been heart wrenching for all of us."

Hundreds of thousands of heaters affected

Victoria's energy regulator estimates there are about 50,000 Vulcan Heritage or Pyrox heaters in Australia and hundreds of thousands of other types of open-flue gas heaters.

Open-flue gas heaters can expel carbon monoxide back into the room where they're being used, with deadly consequences.

They were traditionally used in open, well-ventilated areas, but increasingly as older homes have been retro-fitted, they're being found in well-sealed rooms where the carbon monoxide can't escape.

Additionally, if kitchen or bathroom exhaust fans are running, an environment of negative pressure is created, which can suck more carbon monoxide from the heater.

ESV has labelled the heaters an outdated and vulnerable technology.

But despite the risks, 19 other models of open-flue gas heaters are still being sold in Australia.

Victoria moves on open-flue heaters

In May, ESV said it would move to ban the heaters altogether.

After Ms Sofianopoulos's death, Energy Safe Victoria issued a safety alert for the Vulcan Heritage and Pyrox heaters, urging customers not to use them until they have them checked by the manufacturer.

It also forced Climate Technologies to stop making the Vulcan Heritage and Pyrox heaters. DHHS is also replacing them in all of its dwellings in Victoria.

Ms Sofianopoulos is not the first Victorian to die from an open-flue gas heater.

In 2010, six-year-old Tyler Robinson and his eight-year-old brother Chase died of carbon monoxide poisoning while they were sleeping in their home in Mooroopna, near Shepparton.

The Victorian coroner found the carbon monoxide in their systems came from an IXL Finesse gas heater.

Coroner Hawkins found that after the death of the Robinson brothers, DHHS agreed to undertake an audit of open-flue gas heaters in all public housing in Victoria, that was never actually done.

Coroners Court Finding: Inquest into the Death of Sonia Sofianopoulos

Training Roadshow - Carbon Monoxide Safety Program

Training roadshow will prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

A STATEWIDE program to enhance the skills of plumbers who install and service gas heaters, ensuring households are not at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning will be conducted across Victoria during August.

The Victorian Building Authority, along with Energy Safe Victoria and Master Plumbers, will host a series of training sessions providing expert advice to registered and licensed gasfitters and Type A servicing plumbers on the latest techniques to accurately test for carbon monoxide (CO) spillage and identify negative pressure situations.

VBA chief executive Sue Eddy said the training roadshow was the largest plumbing training program ever undertaken by her organisation.

“We invite all 21,000 plumbers registered or licensed in gasfitting and Type A servicing to take this opportunity to enhance their training, build on their confidence and protect the safety of Victorians,” she said.

Effective testing and maintenance of gas appliances is an important way of managing risks related to carbon monoxide spillage and other factors that might impact their safe operation.

All gas heaters have the potential to spill or leak deadly carbon monoxide and this includes central heating units, space heaters, wall furnaces and decorative log fires.

“These safety precautions are particularly important as Victorian homes change and become better weather sealed and more energy efficient,” Ms Eddy said.

“The VBA and ESV recommend all gas water heaters, space heaters and central heaters are serviced at least every two years by a registered or licensed gasfitter or a Type A serving plumber,” she said.

Training seminars will be held in Bairnsdale, Wodonga, Shepparton, Traralgon, Mildura, Bendigo, Ballarat, Horsham, Warrnambool, Geelong and Melbourne at no cost to practitioners.

As part of the ongoing training for all Victorian gasfitters and Type A servicing plumbers, the VBA along with ESV and Master Plumbers will soon release a short instructional video on negative air pressure and carbon monoxide spillage, as part of its new carbon monoxide safety program.

The video provides a step-by-step guide to conducting a carbon monoxide spillage test, demonstrates how to recognise and combat negative air pressure, and provides safety tips for practitioners who carry out these important tests.

For further details go to

Divers' death 'tragic and avoidable', Brisbane coroner finds

Fisheries Queensland director Andrew Thwaites’ death during a recreational Morton Island scuba dive in August 2016 was “tragic and avoidable”, a Queensland coroner has found.

Handing down her findings into Mr Thwaites’ death, Coroner Christine Clements said it was hoped lessons would be learned to prevent similar tragedies.

Both experienced divers, Mr Thwaites, 44, and his partner Kelly-Anne Masterman had joined a group of recreational scuba divers from their diving club on a day trip to the eastern side of Moreton Island on August 10, 2016, on a day of “perfect conditions”.

On their second dive of the day, at about 22 metres underwater, Mr Thwaites indicated to Ms Masterman that he wasn’t feeling well and wanted to surface.

As they rose through the water, Ms Masterman said she lost sight of Mr Thwaites about 15 metres from the surface.

Fellow divers on the boat’s deck saw Mr Thwaites on an anchor line briefly before he disappeared, but assumed he had simply dived again, not realising he was in trouble.

Mr Thwaites was not seen alive again.

Police divers recovered his body the next day from the floor of the sea-bed.

In handing down her findings over the tragic incident, the coroner found Mr Thwaites died of carbon monoxide poisoning that caused him to fall unconscious and drown.

Mr Thwaites’ second air tank had 2,366 parts per million of carbon monoxide, far above the recommended upper level of five parts per million.

“Increased pressure at depth increases the partial pressure of both the toxic gas and other gases, including oxygen,” the coroner found.

“At 2,366 ppm of carbon monoxide, toxicity would be similar to that experienced from a surface exposure of 6-7,000 ppm.”

Expert advice presented to the inquest found that even if Mr Thwaites had been assisted, the extreme levels of toxicity meant his “survival would not have been guaranteed”.

Coroner Clements found that the source of the carbon monoxide contamination in Mr Thwaites’ air tank was from the air compressor used to fill the tanks, operated and maintained by the Underwater Research Group of Queensland Inc.

The air compressor had been noted by club members to be faulty and was not filling tanks fully. It was repaired a few weeks before Mr Thwaites’ fatal dive.

An expert told the inquest old air compressors such as the one operated by the club had a high risk of contamination that could create toxic levels of carbon monoxide.

Significant legislative reforms were needed to regulate the diving industry and improve the maintenance and assessment of air compressors and other diving equipment, the coroner found.

“In conclusion, the most important issue identified following Mr Thwaites’ tragic death was the need for education to alert divers of the risk of contamination when filling their cylinders,” Coroner Clements wrote.

“The risk of carbon monoxide contamination is a lethal risk, and a ‘sniff’ test will do nothing to alert a diver to the odourless gas.

“Divers can improve their own safety by informing themselves of the Australian standard for breathable air.

Parkes Gasfitter warns of heater dangers

Plumber Gas Fitter John Gorton said he went to the home of an elderly couple recently and was shocked to find the house full of carbon monoxide.

“The couple rang and said their flued gas heater wasn’t working so well and asked if I would come and have a look at it,” John said.

“When I got there, I noticed nothing was coming out of the chimney, no steam at all.

“I walked in the front door and the carbon monoxide hit me in the face. You can’t see it, you can’t smell it, but if you’ve been outside and come in you know what it is.

“None of the exhaust gases were going outside via the flue.”

John said most people don’t realise their heater, whether it’s gas or wood, should be serviced every two years.

“I feel like this is something people need to be aware of,” he said.

“Victoria has really strict laws around gas heaters, especially in rental properties.

“They must be certified every year by someone qualified to test for carbon monoxide.

“It is a silent killer, people die from it every year. They can just go to sleep and not wake up.”

John said he is not trying to scare people, but at this time of year when people are using their heaters all of the time and they have not been serviced in years they could potentially be very dangerous.

“A lot of heaters I see in Parkes have just been neglected,” he said. “People persevere with them and they keep using   them.

“I had someone the other day whose heater wouldn’t stay on. “It had failsafe mechanisms, so if the heater is having problems it will turn off. “They had a stick on top of the button and a brick on that to make it work.

“I said “you can’t do that, it isn’t working for a reason”.

“That person didn’t know and didn’t care, as long as it kept the house warm. “If anything goes wrong they are not covered by insurance, and they have little kids in the house so how would they feel if something happened?”

John said most things have a failsafe on them.

“There is a reason it won’t work, and that’s the reason to get them repaired by a licensed gas fitter,” he said.

John said it is also important to have electric fans on wood heaters regularly cleaned.

“People don’t realise they clog up with a lot of junk and dust and don’t work properly,”

“That dust can catch fire if something goes wrong.”

The Silent Killer in Aussie Homes

“It was just a normal Saturday night,”.

That’s how Vanessa Robinson talked about the night of May 30, 2010, in a video on the Energy Safe Victoria web site. As was normal, her two children – eight-year-old Chase and six-year-old Tyler – had been playing inside the family’s Shepparton home. Following that, the family watched a few videos and went to bed.

During the night, one of the kids began to cry – then the other one. They must be having a nightmare and woken each other up, Robinson thought. They ran to her bedroom and jumped in bed with her, which they often did.

That was the last time she saw either of them alive.

Robinson herself did not wake up until around 6pm the next evening – feeling incredibly unwell. She was put into an induced coma and flown to St Vincent Hospital in Melbourne.

The two boys had died of poisoning from carbon monoxide – a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas which results from the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbon fuels.

Sadly, this is far from the only case of carbon monoxide positioning in Australia. In Victoria alone, nine people have died from carbon the deadly gas over the past decade. In South Australia, 68 people were admitted to emergency departments with carbon monoxide poisoning over the three years to 2017/18. Given that carbon monoxide poisoning often involves symptoms which can be similar to the flu, this is almost certainly understating its impact. Earlier this year, the Victorian Government wrote to more than 6,500 public housing tenants to ask them not to use their gas heaters. This followed the July 2017 death of 62-year-old Sonia Sofianopoulos, who was found dead on the floor between the bathroom and a bedroom in her Greensborough public house with her heater still running.

According to the Federal Government (Department of the Environment and Energy), carbon monoxide impacts the health of both healthy and unhealthy people as levels of carbon monoxide reduce the amount of oxygen carried by haemoglobin around the body in red blood cells. As a result, critical organs such as the brain, nervous tissues and the heart, do not receive enough oxygen to work properly.

The gas is a by-product of combustion, and is present whenever fuel is burned. It is produced by common home appliances, such as gas or oil furnaces, gas refrigerators, gas clothes dryers, gas ranges, gas water heaters or space heaters, fireplaces, charcoal grills, and wood burning stoves.

Particular concerns surround open flue heaters and heaters which do not have any flue.

Essentially speaking, gas-fired heaters which are used and installed throughout households in Australia fall into three categories: room sealed heaters, open flue heaters and flueless heaters.

Room sealed heaters draw air from outside the house to feed the fire. Exhaust gasses such as carbon monoxide are drawn up the flue and dispersed outside. As these are sealed, gas is not drawn back into the room.

By contrast, open flue heaters draw air from inside the room to feed the fire. Whilst the deadly exhaust gasses generally draw up the flue, these can leak back into the room via a draft diverter which is installed to protect the burner from flames and wind gas.

These are particularly problematic where ventilation is inadequate – a growing concern in new houses which are built to high standards of airtightness. Accordingly, Energy Safe Victoria believes that open flue gas heaters are not compatible with modern, sealed homes. Ideally, the regulator says these should be replaced with either a room seal gas heater or a split system heater and air-conditioner.

Further problems occur with flueless heaters, which draw combustion air from the room and emit combustion products back into the same space where the heater is located. These require ongoing ventilation to external spaces both to allow fresh air to fuel the burner and to discharge combustion products.

Because of this, Energy Safe Victoria warns against bringing heaters from the outside into homes. In Sydney in 2015, a 29-year-old man died after using BBQ heat beads placed in a frying pan in what is believed to have been an attempt to heat his bedroom.

Robinson, who following the death of her sons founded the Chase and Tyler Foundation to raise awareness about carbon monoxide poisoning, says many households are unaware about the dangers posed by carbon monoxide.

“Before we started campaigning, there was some knowledge in the gas industry and building industry about carbon monoxide,” Robinson said.

“But when we are talking about consumer knowledge, there was very, very little information in that respect. We had the entire Australian community uneducated about how to use their appliances and how to keep themselves safe in the home. A lot of people – myself included – had made the assumption that we were in fact safe.”

“The reality was that we were very far indeed from that.”

According to Robinson. There are misconceptions about what carbon monoxide poisoning is. Many, she says, mistakenly associate it with gas smelled from a leak. In fact, she says, carbon monoxide is colourless, odourless and tasteless. It could be lurking in homes without occupants knowing.

At an individual household level, Energy Safe Victoria encourages home owners and landlords to observe a number of precautions. Heaters should be serviced by qualified gasfitters at least every two years. Heaters should not be left on overnight, used for extended periods or used when not required. Exhaust fans or fans in rangehoods, toilet or bathroom should not be used at the same time as gas appliances as these can create a ‘negative pressure’ effect where carbon monoxide that should escape out the flue is drawn into living areas. Though they should not be used as a substitute for proper maintenance of gas heating appliances, carbon monoxide alarms can be used as a back-up precaution. Whilst having windows or doors wide open is not necessarily, it was important to ensure that room ventilation is adequate. Owners of old appliances should consider replacing these with new ones. At the next opportunity, Energy Safe recommends replacing open flue heaters with closed room heaters or split system heaters/air conditioners.

Robinson says all stakeholders and participants must work together and play their part. Gas fitter should do thorough checks around the house to ensure that ventilation is adequate. When undertaking renovation, installation or new building work, meanwhile, builders, tradespeople and designers should adopt a holistic view about how the overall building will function and any safety issues which could arise from how the various features of the dwelling work together. The National Construction Code also needed to ensure that adequate ventilation was required in homes. Consumers, meanwhile, needed to be aware of the dangers and the need to have gas appliances serviced regularly. Consumers also needed to be wary of DIY work and any risks this could pose. Any purchase of a heavy duty extraction fan from Bunnings, for example, could cause problems where used in conjunction with an open flue heater.

On specific measures, Robinson says several area stand out.

First, annual or at least biannual servicing of all gas and fuel burning appliances by a Type A qualified gas fitter/plumber was crucial. Chimneys and flues should also be inspected annually lest any blockage or debris interfere with gas extraction.

Ventilation is a must. On this score, Robinson cautions about the push toward greater airtightness in homes. Whilst it is well to improve energy efficiency, she cautions about the need to also think about ventilation and safety as well. In her own case, Robinson said her home was not ventilated at all.

As mentioned above, extraction fans should never be used at the same time as gas heaters as these can create negative pressure and cause air to be drawn back into the home from the flue.

Fourth, bringing outdoor heaters indoors is to be avoided. Use of these unflued devices, Robinson says, can see gas noxious gasses build up indoors as there is no flue mechanism by which the gasses can be extracted. This is becoming a particular problem, she says, as rising energy costs prompt use of barbecues or patio heaters in this way.

Finally, the Chase Tyler Foundation makes a firm recommendation about the use of carbon monoxide alarms installed by qualified gas fitters. Whilst stressing that this is one of the ‘bottom stops’ and is no substitute for appliance servicing, Robinson says these should be in living and sleeping areas depending on the construct of the home.

Robinson would also like action at a broader level.

Governments should mandate servicing of appliances – at least in public housing and rental housing. Whilst this would ideally be required every year, she says it should be mandated at least every two years.

Doctors and physicians as well, could ask more questions. Since carbon monoxide poisoning victims often exhibit symptoms which are similar to those of other ailments such as the flu, Robinson says it is possible that cases of carbon monoxide sickness are going undiagnosed. Questions such as whether or not patients feel better in fresh air, have other family members with similar symptoms or have gas appliances within their home could help to uncover cases where carbon monoxide could be a factor, she said.

More research and statistics are also needed, she said. This is especially as many people were no doubt becoming sick from this without realising it. She feels frustrated about a lack of action.

“The government knew about these risks, the housing department knew about these risks -people have to die for action to be taken.,” she said.

“Why is that always the way? They’ve got the information. They’ve had the information at hand. Nothing was done at that stage (before Chase and Tyler died). “My family has been ripped apart. My two kids are buried in the ground. And there are all the other people whose families have been ripped apart by carbon monoxide. “Why does it have to get to that stage before any action is being taken?”

Written by Andrew Heaton

Sub-Editor - Sourceable

Energy Poverty Project

Energy poverty is an increasing problem in Australia, impacting over 42,000 low-income households. Winter is a time that disadvantaged families experience the most hardship, with significant adverse impacts on not only household finances, but also on the health and wellbeing of individuals within households.

Many families go without appropriate heating, while others use outdoor gas or fuel-burning appliance or gas heaters that have not been regularly serviced to save money and to keep their families warm. Due to this, families are at risk from CO poisoning — which can cause illness, injury and death.

This year the foundation launched our 'Energy Poverty' project which is aimed at providing services such as blankets, CO alarms and educational resources to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and to ensure community members are aware of the risks when using gas and fuel burning appliances.

The foundation provided over 100 safety packs to Launch Housing, which included a queen sized plush blankets, CO alarm, educational brochure and a magnet. Launch Housing delivered these to their clients who fit the criteria specified by the foundation.

We also want to thank Launch Housing and Victorian Public Tenants Association and all of our supporters who donated to the foundation this year. Your money has gone directly back into the community and has assisted the foundation to deliver our project outcomes.

Three family members dead after horror find in NSW shed

THREE family members aged between 16 and 44 have died after being found unconscious in a shed out the back of their home in Broken Hill, New South Wales.

Emergency services were called to the property on Creedon Street, in the northwest NSW mining town, about 4.30pm Thursday. The call-out came after a Cheryl Harvey reported that three people — husband Layne Harvey, 44, and their two sons Jakeb, 23 and Kurtis, 16 — were unconscious in a cellar beneath the rear work shed.

On arrival, police and paramedics located the unresponsive trio, believed to have been overcome by gas caused by a generator that malfunctioned in the closed shed.

Cheryl reportedly found Layne in trouble so called Kurtis and Jakeb who arrived minutes later to help.

Neighbour Margaret Graham told The Daily Telegraph that Cheryl “said her husband was down in the cellar trying to fix a generator”.

“She went down to see what was going on, found him unconscious and she had to come up herself because the fumes were too strong,” Ms Graham said.

“Then her sons came on the scene and the boys went down to help their dad and they got trapped too.”

The crews used breathing apparatuses to enter the shed and retrieved the three men, despite “difficult access”, just before 5pm.

NSW Ambulance Inspector Lisa Darley said paramedics “found a very distressed wife” when they arrived on the scene.

“We could see that there were three patients inside before we were overwhelmed by the fumes … and we had to wait for the NSW Fire & Rescue to come with their specialised equipment,” she said.

Jakeb Harvey (left) and Kurtis Harvey (right). Picture: Facebook

Jakeb Harvey (left) and Kurtis Harvey (right). Picture: FacebookSource:Facebook

Brothers Kurtis Harvey, 16, (left) and Jakeb Harvey, 23, (right) died trying to save their father Layne, who also died. Picture: Facebook

Brothers Kurtis Harvey, 16, (left) and Jakeb Harvey, 23, (right) died trying to save their father Layne, who also died. Picture: FacebookSource:Facebook

A NSW Ambulance spokesman who described the tragedy as “a hazardous material incident” said all three men went into cardiac arrest.

“All three were taken to Broken Hill Hospital but sadly passed away,” police said in a statement.

A tiny manhole cut out of a concrete slab in a shed’s floor trapped toxic fumes which killed a father and his two sons at Broken Hill. Picture: Seven News.

A tiny manhole cut out of a concrete slab in a shed’s floor trapped toxic fumes which killed a father and his two sons at Broken Hill. Picture: Seven News.Source:Channel 7

Locals and friends of a father and his two sons who died in a tragic accident in Broken Hill, in NSW's Far West, have left flowers at the scene on Creedon St. Credit: Helen Grossi

Locals and friends of a father and his two sons who died in a tragic accident in Broken Hill, in NSW's Far West, have left flowers at the scene on Creedon St. Credit: Helen GrossiSource:Supplied

A NSW Police spokeswoman earlier told the deaths were not suspicious, no one was being sought in relation to the matter, and “it was not suicide”.

Officers from Barrier Police District have established a crime scene at the premises but have not yet been able to “gain access safely to conduct a full investigation”.

Police inquiries are continuing and a report will be prepared for the coroner.

A similar situation occurred on a farm in the NSW Southern Tablelands in February 2017 when a husband, wife and their neighbour — all in their 60s — died in an empty water tank.

Emergency services attending the scene in Creedon Street, Broken Hill tonight where a man and his two sons have been found unconscious in a shed, 28 June 2018. Picture: Myles Burt.

Emergency services attending the scene in Creedon Street, Broken Hill tonight where a man and his two sons have been found unconscious in a shed, 28 June 2018. Picture: Myles Burt.Source:Supplied

A father and his two sons have died after a suspected gas leak in their work shed. Picture: Myles Burt

A father and his two sons have died after a suspected gas leak in their work shed. Picture: Myles BurtSource:Supplied

The man collapsed while working in the empty in-ground cement water tank on the property just out of Gunning, with his wife and another man going to help before they also collapsed inside the tank.

“Unfortunately, you see this all too often where the people rescuing go down and also has a tragic outcome,” Insp Darley said.

“If you do smell gas, it is best. to wait for rescue personnel who are specialists in this area to perform that task.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up for the family to help support the surviving members “as they move forward”.

— With AAP | @Megan_Palin

Heater warning after firefighters rescue woman from carbon monoxide-filled house






A woman in her 50s has been rushed to hospital after inhaling dangerous levels of carbon monoxide early Sunday morning.

The St Albans woman was running an outdoor coal burning heater indoors, which, without a fireplace flue or other ventilation, slowly leaked poisonous carbon monoxide gas into her home.

Ambulances arrived on the scene around 2 am, but were unable to enter because of the high levels of gas trapped in the building.

Instead, the Metropolitan Fire Brigade was called, and firefighters entered the building with breathing apparatus to rescue the woman.

She was taken to Sunshine Hospital in a stable but serious condition.

Geelong public housing tenants feel the winter chill as faulty heaters are reviewed

GEELONG properties are among more than 6500 Victorian public homes which have potentially dangerous gas heaters, the State Government says.

Vulcan Heritage and Pyrox Heritage space heaters were removed from sale earlier this year after the Australian Gas Association raised concerns about potentially “unsafe levels of carbon monoxide” they produce.

Around the state qualified tradespeople are testing the 1970s era heaters after the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommended public housing tenants stop using them.

Norlane single mother-of-two Anita Johnston was told to stop using the Vulcan heater at her public housing home in April.

It was finally replaced last Friday, but Ms Johnson endured a tough start to winter.

“You end up not being able to do the dishes at night because it’s that cold in the house,” Ms Johnston said.

“Sleeping is difficult … it is demeaning not living with a heater in winter.”

Ms Johnston said she first called the Department of Health and Human Services, who manage public housing, in April to request a replacement heater.

“I’ve called the department eight times and have got nowhere.”

On Friday after the Geelong Advertiser questioned the DHHS regarding Ms Johnston’s situation, she said an “electrician told to drop everything” arrived with two replacement heaters.

“I don’t like that bureaucrats can act like this. I was still waiting for a replacement before (the Geelong Advertiser) made the call.”

A DHHS spokeswoman said testing of Vulcan and Pyrox heaters in public housing would be a long process.

“There are 6525 known Vulcan or Pyrox heaters across public housing properties in Victoria, and the department is taking action to disconnect and replace these heaters,” the spokeswoman said.

“Given the large volume of heaters installed in public housing this work will take time to complete, however, contractors are working steadily to complete this work.

“The department is providing temporary heaters to tenants and is also providing a subsidy until a permanent heater has been provided or until October 31, whichever comes first.”

Victoria’s Director of Energy Safety Paul Fearon said heater manufacturer Climate Technologies has a program in place to test every private house with a Vulcan or Pyrox heater.

“This is a timely reminder that everyone should have indoor gas appliances, especially heaters, checked by a qualified gasfitter every two years,” Mr Fearon said.

Private homeowners with the Pyrox or Vulcan heaters should call Climate Technologies on 8795 2462 to have it checked, and those in public housing can call 1800 148 426.

Story by: Chad Van Estrop, Geelong Advertiser

Boat deaths from CO poisoning 'entirely avoidable' if detector was fitted, says coroner

The deaths of two men from carbon monoxide poisoning on a boat moored in Hobart were "tragic and completely avoidable accidents", coroner Simon Cooper says.

A friend discovered the bodies of Gregory John Burling, 58, of Newnham, and Brian Owen Daley, 56, of Mowbray on his 10-metre cruiser on 11 January 2016.

The vessel was moored at the Gepp Parade Marina Prince of Wales Bay.

The pair had spent the previous night on board the vessel after making the journey from Wineglass Bay.

An investigation found the pair had died of carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of a poorly installed portable power generator and the absence of a carbon monoxide detector.

Coroner Cooper found the generator was in an enclosed space, its muffler was severely obstructed by a shower curtain and the exhaust had a very long home-made extension which was "wholly unsuitable for the task for which it was designed".

He said this caused the generator to leak gas into the boat's cabin where there was no device to alert those on board.

In his findings, Coroner Cooper said it was apparent the "deaths were entirely avoidable", and he recommended that all boats with enclosed cabins and petrol motors of any type be fitted with a carbon monoxide detector.

He also recommended that all generators be used in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations and not be installed in a confined space.

The fatal journey had begun on January 9 when the boat's owners Mr Barry Lowe and Mr Burling set off from Bicheno to Hobart along with Mr Lowe's seven-year-old daughter and Mr Daley.

Near midnight, while anchored at Wineglass Bay, Mr Lowe's daughter started fitting and needed to be airlifted to the Royal Hobart Hospital.

She was later discharged after a blood test and observation.

Meanwhile, Mr Daley and Mr Burling continued on to Hobart and arrived at the marina on Sunday evening.

Coroner Cooper said toxicology reports showed the pair had spent the evening drinking and that the effect of the alcohol likely masked the effect of the carbon monoxide concentration.

After failing to contact the men by phone, Mr Lowe went to the marina the next morning where he found them both deceased.

Sonia's death from heater prompts urgent inquest

On the cold July morning that she died last year, Sonia Sofianopoulos and her partner, Haralambos Sioros, agreed on the phone that he would come over for coffee. But when he arrived later that morning she didn’t answer the door of her Greensborough unit, even though her car was there.

Mr Sirios dialled her mobile phone and heard it ringing from inside the unit, but he guessed she must have gone out with her sister and left her phone and car behind, so he left. At age 62, Ms Sofianopoulos was in good health and led an active life. But by the next night, her family was deeply worried.

So her daughter Stella and Stella’s husband Jose let themselves into the unit at 10pm. Once inside they were hit by an intense heat and air that was hard to breathe. Ms Sofianopoulos was lying naked and deceased, face down on a towel on the floor between the bathroom and the bedroom.

The unit’s old Vulcan gas heater was running on high and a pot of burnt chickpeas was sitting on a low heat on the gas stove. Ms Sofianopoulos, who was born in Greece in 1954 and emigrated to Australia in 1973, died from carbon monoxide toxicity inside her McDowell Street unit on July 22, 2017.

On Tuesday, it was ruled that her death will be the subject of an urgent coronial inquest, to be heard over five days in May.

Coroner Jacqui Hawkins said at a directions hearing that the inquest carried a sense of urgency -  winter is coming and there is a risk that one or more of perhaps tens of thousands of similar open-flued gas heaters being used in Victoria could kill again.

At the block of 16 units where Ms Sofianopoulos died, 14 had the same Vulcan Heritage gas heater that poisoned Ms Sofianopoulos. All of them failed a test by the state regulator, Energy Safe Victoria, in November.

Residents in the block say they became petrified after they learnt they had the same type of heater. “It could have been us,” a resident named Julie said. “There could have been more deaths.”

At first, the residents did not know what had killed their neighbour. When her family told them  what had happened, their concern grew and they took steps to have the heaters removed.

Resident Eileen Kelly, who wears an oxygen mask, said she believed it had prevented her from breathing in the toxic fumes. “I was lucky," she said. Ms Kelly said the heaters should be removed from all homes in the state. “Everyone should know about it,” she said.

The residents said Ms Sofianopoulos was "deeply missed" and they were still shocked by the death of a friend they described as kind and generous. “I couldn’t believe it, she was so full of life. She was still young,” neighbour Cathy Thornton said. “She was very caring, especially to her grandchildren. She was always doing something for someone.”

Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services is now working to determine how many of the dangerous open-flued heaters are still in use in Victoria’s public housing. The Vulcan heritage console is one of five different types of heater installed in the state's stock of public housing.  There is also an unknown number installed in privately owned homes.

A spokesperson for the department said Ms Sofianopoulos' death was a tragedy, and their thoughts and condolences were with her family. “When the department became aware of concerns regarding the circumstances of Ms Sofianopoulos’ death, all heaters at that location were immediately disconnected,” the spokesperson said.

Energy Safe Victoria is assisting the coroner with its investigation.

It is understood that open-flued heaters are of low risk inside ventilated or draughty homes, but carry a potential danger of causing carbon monoxide poisoning when installed inside more modern, energy-efficient buildings.

Paul Fearon, Energy Safe Victoria’s director, said the regulator was already working with Climate Technologies, the Vulcan unit’s manufacturer, and the department on a technical solution.

“We’re working as fast as we can so we can roll out a program to address this issue in coming weeks,” Mr Fearon said.

But Mr Fearon said the investigation might conclude with a recommendation to rapidly phase out this type of heater.

“I’m yet to be convinced that these heaters will remain viable technology into the future, given their conflict with energy-efficiency objectives,” Mr Fearon said.

Carbon monoxide is odourless, tasteless and colourless, and has been coined the silent or invisible killer.

A faulty gas heater also poisoned Mooroopna boys Chase and Tyler Robinson in their rented home in 2010.

Following their deaths, a coroner recommended inserting a clause into leases that obliges landlords to check or service gas appliances every two years. Energy Safe Victoria also recommends servicing gas heaters at least once every two years.

Coroner calls for mandatory gas alarms after death of young sailor off Balmoral

A coroner has recommended the introduction of mandatory carbon monoxide alarms in all boats and vehicles with sealable cabins after a "talented and experienced" sailor died after succumbing to fumes from a gas stove he had been using for warmth.

Naval architect Nicholas Banfield, 23, had picked up his girlfriend at Glebe and sailed to Middle Harbour for a romantic meal moored off Balmoral Beach on July 1, 2016.

After a feed of nachos and one alcoholic drink, the couple retired into the cabin of his 8.4-metre timber vessel Aquarius.

And with a winter chill in the air, Mr Banfield and NL, who can not be identified, sealed the hatches and turned on the LPG stove to keep the cabin warm. The decision would cost Mr Banfield his life, and nearly claim that of NL.

The woman awoke two days later and made a confused call to her mother before police and Mr Banfield's employer, the well-known sailor Sean Langman who owns Noakes Boat and Shipyard, began to search for Aquarius.

They quickly found it still moored off Balmoral Beach after midday on July 3, only to discover Mr Banfield dead and NL in need of immediate medical treatment.

An autopsy found Mr Banfield had died from a lethal dose of carbon monoxide poisoning and it was "very difficult to know how NL survived", Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame said in her findings on Monday.

Ms Grahame said it was generally believed there was an under-reporting of carbon monoxide deaths across Australia.

"While it is difficult to be certain of the number of annual deaths caused by accidental exposure to carbon monoxide, it is clear that there is a large potential risk in the leisure industry," Ms Grahame said.

"Gas appliances are commonly installed in recreational vehicles, boats and caravans.

"Gas is often used to fuel cooking appliances, water heaters and refrigerator units. Risk exists whenever the appliances are not installed properly, or are faulty or if they are used without proper ventilation.

"Given the confined space of leisure vehicles and craft, the risk appears higher than when such appliances are used in a house or open area. "The problem is exacerbated as carbon monoxide is invisible, odourless and tasteless.

"It is known to cause significant health problems at very low atmospheric concentrations and can cause death within minutes if levels rise quickly."

Fire and Rescue NSW experts performed tests aboard the Aquarius and found a "moderate" level of carbon monoxide was present after 98 minutes.

Ms Grahame said Mr Banfield, who had grown up in Tasmania, was an intelligent, talented and experienced sailor who had been on the water since he was aged seven and had a "good understanding of current safety standards within the boating industry".

The inquest heard the shock of the death of his employee had prompted Mr Langman to advise boat owners to install gas detectors.

But despite his company seeing about 3500 boats a year, only two owners had installed the potentially life-saving equipment since Mr Banfield's death. "Nicholas Banfield was an intelligent and careful sailor with many years of experience," Ms Grahame said.

"That such a tragedy can befall him, in itself calls for a re-thinking of the regulation of this environment. "The fact is he is not an isolated figure.'

Ms Grahame formally recommended the introduction of legislation for mandatory carbon monoxide alarms in "all recreational and leisure craft and vehicle with sealable cabins, including sailing and motor vessels, caravans and motor homes".

She also recommended more safety initiatives to educate the public on the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Boy dies of carbon monoxide poisoning after fridge malfunction

A heartbroken family is urging people to carbon monoxide detectors in their home after 10-year-old Gavin Klebs died from carbon monoxide poisoning recently, due to a leaking fridge.

Sarah Klebs and two of her three children were enjoying some time at the family's holiday cabin in Alaska when 8-year-old Caroline complained of a headache. Soon, Gavin also had a headache, and started to vomit.

Sarah's husband Matt was away on a work assignment, and her oldest son 14-year-old Connor was staying with friends.

After a few hours, Sarah also became unwell, but assumed the family had caught the flu, so the three of them rested – inside the cabin.

"How would you know?" Sarah said to Alaska Dispatch News. "Prior to this I would never have thought about it."

Sarah says she has gaps in her memory of what happened that weekend, but she remembers being in bed and reading text messages from concerned family members asking if they were okay. She was unable to answer them.

But it wasn't until 9am the next day that Connor's friend's parents became concerned enough to drive to the cabin to investigate, after Sarah failed to arrive to pick him up.

They found Sarah in bed with Caroline, who was unconscious. Sarah remembers trying to get out of bed but says her legs were "like rubber". Gavin was found dead in the cabin. Sarah and Caroline were both taken to hospital and are expected to make a full recovery.

Investigators later found the cabin had a propane-powered refrigerator, which had started leaking carbon monoxide – an odourless gas.

The children's dad Matt said he did regular maintenance on the fridge and he thought it was fine. A mechanical contractor, he said he felt responsible. "I'm in the business to keep this from happening," he said.

The devastated couple are sharing their story in the hope it will stop another family suffering the same heartbreak. They want families to install carbon monoxide detectors in their homes.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include fatigue, headaches, nausea and confusion.

Doctors amputate dad’s legs after carbon monoxide poisoning

IT was a tragedy which changed Jason Reynoldson’s life forever.

The 38-year-old was left unconscious in the space of just minutes in a shed filled with undetectable toxic gas, knocking him unconscious. The damage had spread to his entire body and doctors were forced to choose between his legs or his life.

The Sunshine Coast man had been working on restoring on an old caravan and left a generator charging in his shed while he went fishing on July 6.

With his wife Tanaya and children Jasmin (11) and Taj (8) away in Brisbane for a netball tournament, the father-of-two chose to stay behind for work.

Later that night he went to work on an old caravan he had been restoring and walked into the shed to get the generator.

It was only after he didn’t turn up for work the next morning with his father, that his stepmother called to check on him and found him lying unconscious.

On a gofundme page launched by his father-in-law Mohambry Appavoo, it was revealed how the accident left a the father, nicknamed Jacko, clinging to life.

“Jacko was found unconscious after 10 hours accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. He had been charging a battery off a generator in a very well-loved shed,” Mr Appavoo wrote.

“After fishing, he returned to his shed and less than 30 seconds of undetectable poison rendered him unconscious.”

Mr Appavoo said the decision was made to save his life but it meant both legs had to be amputated.

The agonising decision means his son-in-law now faces months of rehabilitation, while his family home will also need to be adapted.

Mr Appavoo told Nine News his son-in-law was now in a stable condition after spending eight days in a coma.

He had only begun talking last week and doctors have only just given him the devastating news that he has lost his legs.

“To have a role model like Jacko is a gift,” Mr Appavoo wrote on the gofundmepage.

“A gift to ourselves and our children. He has a heart of gold, a hunger for life, a contagious spirit and as so many people have mentioned the ability to make you feel good about yourself.”

He also said his son-in-law was a fighter who never complained and wanted to raise $150,000 which would help the family for a year. More than $50,000 has been raised so far.

Fiona O’Loughlin given ‘7% chance of living’ after carbon monoxide poisoning

Fiona O’Loughlin knows just how dangerous a heater can be in winter and opened up about a near-death experience during a chat on radio. The comedian fell into a four-week coma and was given a seven percent chance to live after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning.

She shared the harrowing story with Gold104.3’s Jo and Lehmo and admitted her ‘demons didn’t help’ her pick up on what was happening.

“It went over the course of a month. I forgot things, I thought I was getting early Alzheimer’s. I was forgetting things, forgetting my kids’ names. But then I did forget I was an alcoholic," she said.

Fiona goes on to explain she was ‘very, very unwell’ in hospital in a month-long coma. In fact, the carbon monoxide poisoning almost killed her.

“I was given a seven per cent chance of life. Guess what? I didn’t die,” she laughed.

Fiona has made a full recovery since and hasn’t experienced any of the long-term side effects of carbon monoxide poisoning.

What is carbon monoxide poisoning?

Fiona’s story is one that every parent should take note of because almost every family will have a heater on at some point this winter.

Dr Sam Hay spoke to Kidspot and explained: “Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odourless, tasteless, colourless, non-irritating gas formed by hydrocarbon combustion.”

“CO stops oxygen from connecting to haemoglobin in the blood properly, which means not enough will get around the body, especially to vital organs like the brain,” he explained.

As the levels rise, oxygen drops and people will develop symptoms which are highly varied and non-specific.

“Initial non-specific complaints such as headache, tiredness, nausea, just feeling unwell, or dizziness occur,” explained Sam.

For many adults these general symptoms aren’t anything out of the ordinary, which is what makes diagnosing the condition difficult.

“When severe, people get really drowsy, become confused, or lose consciousness. Death is inevitable when the exposure is severe, but brain damage can be a lifelong disability if people survive,” Dr Sam added.

Winter is the most dangerous time of year

When you’re exposed to CO sources like fires, heaters, generators or engines unintentional poisoning can happen.

“During winter, there are increased numbers of poisonings across the world as people lock themselves indoors in front of heaters to avoid the cold,” said Dr Sam.

In Australia cases are less likely than throughout the northern hemisphere because it doesn’t get that cold here, although Dr Sam advises we still need to be vigilant.

“Check fireplaces and heaters regularly to make sure they're working properly, but most importantly, keep rooms well ventilated,” he said.

Dr Sam believes that if you are worried about it go and see your doctor but if your symptoms seem severe go to the hospital because you may need oxygen therapy and close monitoring.

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