Based on the latest United Nations estimates, the current population in South Africa is 55,318,397, all South African citizens rely primarily on electricity supplied ESKOM. Eskom's mandate is to generate, transport, and distribute electricity to the entire country. For a while now, South Africa has been having problems with electricity supply, the demand for electricity has far off exceeded the possible supply. As a result, load shedding or load reduction has been a measure placed to protect the electricity power system from a total blackout, especially during peak periods where demand is higher, such as winter time.
As an alternative energy source, Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) presents a solution to reduce reliance on the national electricity. The use of LPG has seen a significant increase over the last few years due to the manufacturing of cost-effective and reliable Gas-powered appliances. LPG is used by both businesses and households, it is mainly used for cooking and space heating. The use of LPG powered appliances has become a trend in South Africa as Load Shedding becomes uniform.
"The market for gas-powered appliances and technologies is growing fast, Sales of gas heaters at Makro have grown steadily in recent seasons and a huge spike is anticipated in sales this winter, "Gary Lindhorst, Makro Merchandise Manager.
The use of gas is a helpful substitute that a lot of South African households have moved to, the affordability of LPG means even the poorest households make use of it. However, when proper precautions have not been taken, accidents are prone to happen. For a safe warm winter this year, consider the following;
Consumers are advised to only purchase an appliance that has a Permit Verification Number displayed on it. The South African Gas Association (SAGA) has established the Safe Gas Equipment Scheme (SGES) that is set to ensure that all equipment installed in South Africa have been tested and is in compliance with an internationally or nationally acceptable standard that is safe and fit for intended use. Any equipment that has not been manufactured up to that standard can be a health hazard. Only equipment that has been awarded an Equipment Verification Permit should be used.
Before an LPG appliance can be used properly, it has to be installed properly. Consumers should never attempt to install LPG appliance themselves. Armature installation has caused numerous accidents in the past, such as fires and gas leakages, which can be deadly. As per South African law, only a registered Gas practitioner can install gas equipment. A comprehensive list of registered installers is available on www.saqccgas.co.za
The winter season is a peak time for Gas consumption, the need to keep warm is immense due to the cold weather. As a result, many fires occur at this time of the year as a lot of us have our heaters on. Take note of the following safety precautions with regard to the use of Gas heaters;
- Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines carefully.
- Always turn your heater off at the cylinder valve before going to bed or leaving the room or your property.
- Ensure all the components of your unit are well maintained e.g. the heater, regulator, hose and hose connection.
- When changing the cylinder, first close the valve and then remove the regulator. Always check that the rubber “O-ring” (washer) on the end of the regulator is not worn, brittle or damaged in any way. Replace it if it is.
- Test any gas appliance or heater for possible leaks by spraying a soap-water solution on all connections. Leaks will show in the form of a bubble and must be repaired immediately.
- Do not use aerosols or flammable, cleaning liquids or sprays close to the heater.
- Avoid sitting or standing too close to your heater– a safe distance would be 1 m.
- Always ensure that the room in use is well ventilated so that there is a continuous supply of fresh air (oxygen); if it becomes stuffy, open the windows and doors to allow fresh air in immediately. Ensure that your heater is positioned away from any flammable materials and is not blocking any escape route.
- Never place clothes or other items on your heater.
- Do not move your unit while it is in use.
- Educate children on the safe use of gas appliances and never leave them without supervision in a room where an appliance is located.
- If you suspect a gas leak, turn off the gas cylinder immediately and, if possible, take the heater outside.
- Only use LP gas appliances that are permitted to be sold in South Africa. A complete list is available on www.lpgas.co.za. Click on the Safety button and then on find a Safe Appliance.
- Unplug electrical appliances if they are not going to be used for a long time.
- Use electric heaters with great caution and unplug them before you go to sleep or leave the area where they are used.
- Place heaters away from materials such as curtains, bedding, clothing and wooden furniture and ensure adult supervision if children are around.
- Switch electric blankets off at the wall plug once you leave the bed.
- Never run electric cables under carpets, as this might cause a short and start a fire.
- Turn off all electrical appliances if a power failure occurs in your area.
- Use paraffin appliances in a well-ventilated area and switch them off after using them.
- Store flammable liquids in a cool, ventilated area to avoid explosions.
- Ensure that the chimney in your house is cleaned regularly and covered with a safety shield.
- Avoid having unnecessary waste or compost heaps if your home will be left unattended for a long time.
- Extinguish an open fire before you leave it.
- Take special care when you use open fires for barbequing or heating, and extinguish all fires once you leave the area.