SAFE expands partnerships with HVAC companies to curb teen abuse of refrigerants

Adolescents who inhale refrigerants from air conditioning units can die or damage their brains — and the refrigerant is easy to access through a unit’s service valve. To prevent access to the toxic gas, Substance Abuse Free Environment Inc., or SAFE, initiated a partnership with HVAC companies last spring to provide locking caps to homeowners at no charge.

The nonprofit coalition estimates that nearly 4,000 locking caps have been installed, but many more units are still vulnerable to misuse. Since March 18-24 is National Inhalants and Poison Awareness Week, SAFE is reminding homeowners that now is a good time to get locking caps installed on their cooling systems’ service valves, as they schedule air conditioning tune-ups before the summer heat.

The following companies have agreed to install locking caps free of charge as part of a regular maintenance or service call. Some will install caps free even if no other service is provided: Air Excellence, Barnes Heating and Cooling, Bowman’s Heating and Air, Barnett’s Heating and Air, Daniel’s Heating and Refrigeration, Dominion Service Company, Hale’s Heating and Air Conditioning, Innovative Heating and Cooling, James River Air Conditioning, Lin Jarrett Heating and Air Conditioning, Midlothian Mechanical, Universal Heating and Plumbing, W.G. Speeks Inc. and Woodfin. For company contact information, visit


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