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November 13, 1995

Release # 96-016
CPSC: Kate Primo
(301) 504-0580 Ext. 1187

CPSC, GAMA Issue Warnings on Vented Gas Space Heaters

WASHINGTON, D.C. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association (GAMA) are warning consumers to have their vented gas space heaters professionally inspected every year to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

According to CPSC, improper venting of propane and natural gas space heaters is a major cause of CO poisoning from vented gas space heaters. If the heater is not vented properly, not vented at all, or if the vent is blocked, separated, rusted, or corroded, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can enter the home causing sickness and death. CO also can be produced if the heater is not properly set up and adjusted for the type of gas used and the altitude at which it is installed.

"Each year, carbon monoxide poisoning kills more than 200 people and sends 5,000 more to hospital emergency rooms," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "Many of these poisonings can be avoided if consumers work with home heating professionals to make sure their appliances are properly installed."

CPSC and GAMA warn people not to re-install used space heaters. "We've seen too many cases where people buy a used space heater and install it themselves. Too many things can go wrong, and with dangerous carbon monoxide, it is not worth the risk," GAMA president Reuben Autery said.

Carbon monoxide is extremely dangerous because it is invisible and odorless and its symptoms (headache, dizziness, sleepiness, nausea, vomiting, or confusion) are similar to common illnesses like the flu. People frequently die from CO while they are sleeping.

To maintain their safety, vented space heaters should be installed by a professional contractor and inspected every year. Consumers are not qualified to spot potential vent, maintenance, or installation problems. According to GAMA, the best time to have a heater inspected is prior to the heating season.

Consumers can call (800) 603-9293 to receive a warning label and a free brochure about vented gas heater safety. Consumers should check the phone book or contact a local fuel supplier to find a qualified heating contractor.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission protects the public from the unreasonable risk of injury or death from 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury and for information on CPSC's fax-on-demand service, call CPSC's hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270. To order a press release through fax-on-demand, call (301) 504-0051 from the handset of your fax machine and enter the release number. Consumers can report product hazards to