wood heater safety after carbon monoxide near miss
ABC Radio Hobart By Georgie Burgess Posted 4hours ago
A family a seven, including three young children, standing and looking at the camera
Kim Davies (left) with her family who could have all died from carbon monoxide poisoning.(Supplied: Kim Davies)
Kim Davies was cooking tea at home in Collinsvale when she started to feel dizzy and couldn’t see properly.
Kim Davies hadn’t used her wood heater for six months
When she eventually used it, she started to feel light-headed
Tasmania Fire Service says all wood heaters need to be regularly checked by a professional
She looked across the room and noticed her son had lost consciousness on the couch.
It was then that she realised something wasn’t right.
“I couldn’t wake my son up, he was sitting on the couch and I couldn’t wake him up,” Ms Davies said.
“He’d gone pale and his lips had gone blue.
“My daughter was complaining that she was tired and her head hurt.”
Ms Davies called her partner, who said it sounded like the family had carbon monoxide poisoning.
“We could have all died that night,” she said.
People may not realise smoke ‘impedes their senses’
It was this time a year ago when Ms Davies decided to light the wood heater after its six-month hiatus.
“It filled my unit up with smoke and basically I opened all the doors and windows and got the smoke out and shut the fire down,” she said.
The flue was blocked.
Once the house had aired out, she shut it up again.
“A couple of hours later, I started to feel light-headed and a bit funny while I was cooking tea,” she said.
“My son who was two at the time, he actually lost consciousness.”
Ms Davies said she began to panic.
“It’s the worst thing I’ve ever had to witness,” she said.
Ms Davies lives in a unit below her parents’ house — they were also home at the time.
“I called an ambulance and it turned up with the fire brigade and the HAZMAT group,” she said.
Photo of a wood burning heater or fireplace in Canberra.
Tasmania Fire Service urges people to regularly have their wood heaters serviced.(Supplied: ABC News)
“They got my son breathing again by taking him out into the fresh air, and I was on oxygen.”
The fire officer’s carbon monoxide reader revealed a dangerously high level in both her unit and her parents’ house.
The Tasmania Fire Service’s (TFS) community fire safety director, Jeremy Smith, said all wood heaters needed to be regularly maintained and checked by a professional.
“It doesn’t take long for soot to build up in flus or chimneys, if you’re using wet wood or wood that’s not been properly seasoned,” he said.
“The smoke will back down the chimney or the flue and people that may be in the dwelling, their senses are affected by the smoke. They may not realise that the smoke or the gases actually impede their senses.”
‘I came very close to losing my life’
Ms Davies said she no longer used the wood heater, despite installing carbon monoxide readers in both houses.
“It was too much for me. I spent a lot of nights awake wondering if my children were OK or not,” she said.
“The firies told me, if I had have just left my son and put him to bed thinking he was just tired and put myself to bed, my partner probably would have gone home and found us all unresponsive.
“I came very close to losing my children and my life that night.”