Gas and electrical safety tips can save you from harm

21 September 2013

NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe is warning consumers to take care with gas and electrical appliances now Spring has sprung and when buying products to exercise their Australian Consumer Law (ACL) rights and responsibilities.

Fair Trading received 3,144 enquiries and 2,227 complaints about electric, electronic, whitegoods and gas appliances in 2012/13.

Mr Stowe urged consumers to pay attention to gas and electrical safety and do regular, recommended checks and maintenance on all gas and electrical appliances to avoid the risk of fatality, fire and damaging accidents.

“Behaviour and basic checks are important for public safety,” the Commissioner said.

“Check for the appropriate approval marks on gas and electrical items.

“Frequently check fittings and hoses for wear and tear and replace parts when needed

“Check often to avoid faulty or failing gas and electrical appliances like barbeques, lunchbox cookers and gas cylinders.

“Don’t use outdoor gas lunchbox cookers on leaf litter or dry grass and don’t overload them with big pans.

“LPG cylinders and attached equipment can kill, if gas leaks.

“Check often for leaks on gas connections.

“Do the soapy water test.

“Mix up some soapy water, turn the gas on, wet the hose and connections. If you see bubbles, you have found a leak.”

The Commissioner urged consumers to buy barbecues, gas cylinders and portable appliances manufactured by reputable producers of outdoor gear to avoid flawed products.

“All gas barbecues and small camping gas appliances must be certified to be legally sold in NSW,” he said.

Mr Stowe said LP gas is heavier than air so will accumulate in low areas, rather than dissipate.

“It can generate an explosive mixture with air if the cylinder or attached equipment leaks,” he said.

“Cylinders of LP gas or acetylene carried or left in closed vehicles have caused explosions and fires.

“If the cylinder doesn’t have a test mark, it could be lethal. It can’t legally be filled in NSW.”

  • Look for the test marks on cylinders.
  • Don’t use a cylinder that is more than 10 years old.
  • Don’t leave LPG cylinders indoors or in small spaces.
  • Don’t attach or detach gas cylinders close to a naked flame.
  • Don’t use a gas BBQ in really windy weather because you run the risk of a gas leak or an explosive ignition.
  • Turn off gas cylinder valves before disconnecting bottles.
  • Keep the area around any BBQ or cooker free of loose debris.
  • Read manufacturers’ advice before using gas cylinders.
  • Keep cylinders cool and away from flames at all times.
  • Don’t light cigarettes in cars carrying gas bottles.
  • Keep cylinders in a secure and upright position when transporting them.
  • If you buy a cylinder without a current legible test mark, you need to have it inspected at a certified gas cylinder test station and stamped with a test mark.

Mr Stowe said all electric barbecues must be marked approved.

“Don’t use barbeques indoors or in any confined space if they use charcoal briquettes, hot rocks or similar products to provide a heat source.” he said. “Exposure to fumes can be dangerous.”

He urged consumers to check all hot weather appliances for frayed leads and damaged plugs.

“Don’t use electrical and gas appliances too close to pools and spas.” he said.

Photographs of non-compliant goods, as well as gas and electrical approval marks are at the Fair Trading website.

Call Fair Trading on 13 32 20 for help with safety and ACL issues.

You can also visit Fair Trading and Service NSW centres for advice and assistance