British Columbia Safety Authority

British Columbia Safety Authority

September 22, 2008 09:00 ET

British Columbia Safety Authority: Keep Your Home Warm-And Safe-This Winter

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Sept. 22, 2008) - The cold weather months are just around the corner. But before you turn on your gas-fired heating appliances and close your windows, have those appliances properly cleaned and well-maintained by a professional, qualified contractor.

That's the message from the BC Safety Authority which regulates the safety of the propane and natural gas industry in BC.

The Safety Authority says homeowners should hire a licensed contractor who will check and clean the gas appliances, and will know what to look for to keep homes safe from potential hazards like fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

A key concern is carbon monoxide, an odourless, toxic gas that is created when fuel burns incompletely. If trapped in a poorly-ventilated area, it can cause symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, headache, vomiting or nausea, loss of manual dexterity, confusion, unconsciousness and even death.

The 2007 State of Safety Report from the Safety Authority notes that carbon monoxide poisoning from a propane refrigerator caused two fatalities in a recreational cabin. In another reported incident, six people were hospitalized because carbon monoxide leaked from a dislodged vent terminal of a gas heating appliance.

Other signs of carbon monoxide at home to watch out for include:

- Dying house plants

- Discoloration or soot build-up on heating appliances, the fireplace or at warm-air outlets

- Loose, disconnected, rusted or water streaked venting components

- Abnormal condensation on windows and walls

Unlike carbon monoxide, natural gas and propane smell like rotten eggs or sulfur.

If you smell gas or hear the sound of escaping gas:

- Open the doors and windows

- Shut off the main gas valve at the meter or propane tank if you know how

- Do not operate electrical switches or devices, use any phone, smoke, or create any other source of ignition

- Leave the house or building immediately and call your gas supplier's emergency response number or 911 as soon as you are in a safe area

Here are some tips to reduce the risks from fires and carbon monoxide poisoning:

- Have a contractor, licensed by the Safety Authority, inspect your gas-fired home heating appliances. Servicing and cleaning should be performed at least annually and as specified by the appliance manufacturer.

- For gas appliance cleaning and servicing, make sure your registered contractor employs certified gasfitters.

- Install a carbon monoxide detector labeled with the latest Canadian Standard CSA 6.19-01 and keep your windows slightly open for ventilation.

- Always ask for proof of certification or licensing from your contractor. You may also consult the BCSA website at www.safetyauthority.ca (homeowner section) for a list of licensed contractors in your area. The website (safety information section) also contains additional information regarding natural gas and propane safety for consumers.

The BC Safety Authority is an independent, self-funded organization that inspires safety excellence in British Columbia by partnering with business, industry and the general public to enhance the safety of technical systems, products, equipment and work.

For more information, contact the Safety Authority toll free at 1.866.566.7233.

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