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 propane stoves or barbecues to cook or generate heat, or use portable generators. All produce carbon monoxide.

“It’s very important that those items not be used indoors,” McLeod said.

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

Fundraiser for Australian Wildlife Rescue Service coming to Last Drop Pub on Friday

Live music events at Traverse and the Regent as well this weekend

KIJHL rookie goalies proving tough for shooters

Grizzlies’ Andrew Palm has 12 wins this season

Mild weather for Revelstoke for next few days

Roads and weather report for Jan. 27

Icewine lovers gather at Grizzli for first annual festival

The festival also celebrated the Lunar New Year

Penticton Indian Band stands in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en

“We’ve lived in this area for 10,000 years, and our knowledge is being disregarded…” - Chad Eneas.

Former Hells Angels associate in Kelowna court on gun, drug charges

Former Angels associate Dale Habib appears in Kelowna court

NDP suggests easing secondary housing rules for B.C. farmland

Lana Popham proposes mobiles, guest suites not just for relatives

After four sexual assaults in the same B.C. park, RCMP ask women not to walk alone

Four sexual assaults took place in Glen Park over two months

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

Tribute hails Holly at North Okanagan Winter Dance Party

Feb. 3, 1959 was “The Day the Music Died,” but it’s coming back Feb. 1, 2020

Suspect reported head-butting Chase RCMP officer in face during arrest

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

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

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

Most Read