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Safer Gas Water Heaters

Imagine your child playing in the garage when he tips over a can of gasoline. The fumes from the gasoline are released into the air. The fumes reach a gas water heater also located in the garage causing a flashback fire that takes the life of your child. Unfortunately, this type of tragic incident happens too often, killing or severely injuring children and adults .

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 8oo residential fires are caused each year in the the ignition of flammable vapors near gas water heaters, resulting in an estimated 5 deaths and 130 injuries annually .

These fires typically occur when flammable liquids such as gasoline are used for cleaning near a gas water heater, when flammable liquids are spilled near a gas water heater, or even when spraying occurs near a gas water heater. When the vapors come in contact with the pilot light or burner, they ignite, causing a severe flashback fire.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Gas Appliance Manufactures Association have begun a new era in gas water heater technology. A voluntary standard was created that called for all conventional gas water heaters, manufactured after July 1, 2003, to be equipped with new safety technology, known as a flame arrestor. This technology prevents flashback fires by trapping and burning dangerous gas vapors inside the heater, while preventing ignition of the vapors in the room. This final standard was incorporated into requirements that gas water heaters be resistant to flammable vapors ignition, lint, dust, and oil accumulations. All water heaters manufactured after July 1, 2003, are expected to comply with this national safety standard (American National Safety Standard Institute ANSI Z21 .10 .1a).

Millions of gas water heaters manufactured before the new standard took effect are still in homes. It is important for consumers to take measures to prevent further tragedies with their old water heaters. Gas cans should never be stored indoors . They should be tightly sealed and stored away from ignition sources and away from a child’s reach. The safety industry is also calling for child resistant packaging for all gas cans and spill proof packaging.

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