On Monday night, a family of three in Chennai lost their lives after inhaling toxic gas from the air conditioner in their bedroom.
According to the police, the couple—Saravanan and his wife, Kalaiarasi—had switched on the AC in their bedroom before they went to sleep next to their 8-year-old son, Karthikeyan. There was no electricity, so the AC was working on the inverter. When the power returned in the middle of the night, it caused the AC compressor to leak, and as the windows and doors were shut, the trio suffocated to death.
Earlier this year in Chennai, a fire that originated from a window AC resulted in the death of 46-year-old Gandhirajan.
ACs are not uncommon these days and while news like this might cause a wave of worry.
Here are ten simple precautionary measures, recommended by experts, that can help prevent accidents and keep you safe from danger:
1. Do not plug your AC to a power extension cord. A 1-ton AC may consume between 900 to 1200 W of power (some units may consume even more power) which is much higher than a mobile phone (2 to 6W) or a laptop (20-50 W). Plugging it to a power extension cord will increase the risk of the cord and subsequently, the machine, catching fire, so reserve a switch for the appliance instead.
2. This electrical socket must be easily accessible so you can switch it off in an emergency situation. The wires should be placed in such a manner that they do not become a trip hazard.
3. Ensure that no water source, like a tap, is near the unit. Place the unit in such a way that even accidentally, water doesn’t spill over the unit. Also, avoid placing decorative items, like flowers upon the unit.
4. Keep the unit and wires away from hot surfaces that may damage the wire insulation.
5. Get the AC and electric socket checked regularly. Since they are high voltage units, this precautionary measure is a must.
6. It is advised to let only professionals install an AC at your home so they can check for water seepage, the correct socket for installation etc.
7. If you are using the AC on an inverter or generator, do keep an eye on when the power returns, and switch off the inverter as soon as it does. In fact, avoid using the AC on an inverter as far as possible.
8. If any parts (external or internal) are damaged or broken, have them repaired immediately. Tell-tale signs like weird noises, nasty smell or reduced cooling etc. should not be ignored.
9. Change the air filter of the AC regularly and ensure it is clean so as to avoid the strain on the unit.
10. Just before summer starts, get your AC checked and serviced. These are the months when it will have to take the maximum load. Also, make sure you turn off all power sources connected to the AC while checking/servicing/repairing it.