Carbon monoxide a stealthy foe, public urged to take precautions

Heavy snow and power outages underline need to check monitors, ensure proper venting

It’s a stealthy killer, but one that, if recognized, can easily be stopped.

Autumn and winter are when an increase in potentially lethal carbon monoxide poisoning takes place. As an odourless, colourless and tasteless gas, it’s not easily detected.

Laura McLeod, a spokesperson for Technical Safety BC, points to an instance on Vancouver Island in November when an adult and a child were taken to hospital, with the likely cause being a malfunctioning gas fireplace.

Last winter, three children and five adults in the Fraser Valley were treated for carbon monoxide exposure, which was caused by a vent connector that had dislodged from a chimney.

Last year in Winnipeg, she said, people in a motel developed carbon monoxide poisoning possibly due to a faulty boiler.

Technical Safety BC recommends buying Canadian-certified carbon monoxide alarms and never ignoring the device’s warning sound. Portable, battery-operated models are available if the power goes out, which McLeod recommends also using in Airbnbs, motels, hotels and even longer-term rentals.

If your home alarm is more than seven years old it should be replaced and, if it doesn’t have a date on it, it’s very likely ready for retirement.

Read more: Carbon monoxide alarms at Salmon Arm RBC prompt evacuations

Read more: 46 people in hospital after suspected carbon monoxide leak at Winnipeg hotel

For gas-fueled appliances, lack of maintenance is often one of the causes of carbon monoxide problems. Technical Safety BC recommends an annual appliance inspection.

“Gas is a technology where people need to use a licensed contractor registered with Technical Safety BC. It can’t be done by any handyperson,” said McLeod, adding that wood stoves can also create carbon monoxide.

McLeod has heard about the recent evacuations on two consecutive days at a Salmon Arm bank when the carbon monoxide detectors went off, but she hasn’t received a follow-up yet. The Salmon Arm Fire Department reported after the two evacuations that no cause had been determined.

One danger when there are power outages is that people will be tempted to bring in portable stoves to generate heat.

“It’s very important that those items not be used indoors,” McLeod said. “If you are using one, you always have to make sure it’s outdoors or has appropriate venting.”

Regarding furnaces, Steve Genn with Proair Heating & Cooling said they are built with the knowledge there will be power outages, so nothing hazardous happens to them when the power goes out.

Another issue for homes can be snow, or even leaves, which can block appliance vents, keeping the dangerous gas inside.

Although McLeod does not have statistics of carbon-monoxide poisoning in B.C. in 2019 yet, she provided statistics compiled by the BC Coroners Service. Between 2008 and 2017, 119 carbon monoxide-related poisoning deaths were reported in the province.



marthawickett@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Technical Safety BC recommends an annual inspection of appliances and vents. (File photo)

Just Posted

Suspect reported head-butting Chase RCMP officer during arrest

Charges laid include break and enter, assault, resisting arrest and assault causing bodily harm

Award recognizes Salmon Arm homes, buildings for heritage value

Honours to be presented during Heritage Week, Feb. 17 to 23

Downed power lines block North Shuswap road

Close to 1,500 people are without power

Hundreds race, thousands raised at Reino Keski-Salmi Loppet

More than 400 skiers participate in annual event at Shuswap’s Larch Hills

Sicamous Eagles suffer winless weekend

Games against the North Okanagan Knights, Summerland Steam and Kmaloops Storm all ended badly.

VIDEO: Canada’s first presumptive case of coronavirus officially confirmed

Both patient and wife arrived on a China Southern Airlines flight after having been to Wuhan

BC Place lights up in purple and yellow to honour Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash

Whistleblower says Iranian-Americans questioned at Peace Arch crossing were targeted

Immigration lawyer says response from Customs Border Protection is a ‘total cover up’

Salmon Arm rinks have strong showing in bonspiels

Ladies and mens competitions ran Jan. 24 to 26 at the Salmon Arm Curling Centre

‘Big money’ funding B.C. politics now mostly from taxpayers

Campaign targets $16 million and counting in ‘politician welfare’

Playoff-bound Silverbacks win one on Island road trip

‘Backs at the Shaw Centre on Friday, Jan. 31, for tilt against the Merritt Centennials

VIDEO: Music stars pay tribute to Kobe Bryant at Grammys award show

Music artists including Billy Ray Cyrus, Rick Ross and Kirk Franklin paid tribute to Bryant

South Okanagan ski hill reports ex-employee to RCMP, closes lift amid investigation

‘We are actively investigating and dealing with the actions of a former employee,’ said the resort

Most Read