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

Help sought in developing family practices in South Okanagan and Similkameen

An estimated 15,000 people in region do not have a family doctor

Catch Cabin Fever at the Cawston Community Hall on Feb. 15

The community fundraiser opens doors at 7:30 with music starting at 8 p.m.

Penticton Vees extend streak to six wins as they enter home stretch

The final eight games of the season are all home games.

Penticton breweries working together to put city on the map

How seven small craft breweries brought global recognition to Penticton.

Flooding water at West Kelowna Tim Hortons closes lane on Highway 97

This story has been updated with more accurate information. Water flooding from… Continue reading

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

People knowingly take fentanyl so make policy changes to reduce harm: B.C. study

Dr. Jane Buxton, an epidemiologist at the centre, says drug users need more resources,

‘My heart is going to bleed’: Bodies brought back to Canada following Iran plane crash

Remains of Sahar Haghjoo, 37, and her eight-year-old daughter, Elsa Jadidi, were identified last weekend

UBC grad and sister killed in Iran plane crash had bright futures ahead, close friend says

Asadi-Lari siblings Mohammad Hussein and Zeynab were two of 57 Canadians aboard downed Flight PS752

Animal lovers cautioned against feeding urban deer – even if they beg at the window

Even if the deer press their little faces against your kitchen window… Continue reading

Highway 1 closed near Golden for high avalanche danger

DriveBC does not give an estimation for reopening

BCLC opens novelty bet on Harry and Meghan moving to the west coast

Meanwhile, real estate agency points to four possible homes for the family

Canada slips in global corruption ranking in aftermath of SNC-Lavalin scandal

The country obtained a score of 77, which places it at the top in the Americas

Most Read