British Columbia Safety Authority

British Columbia Safety Authority

December 02, 2010 09:00 ET

BC Safety Authority: Don't Be a Victim of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Dec. 2, 2010) - Recent freezing temperatures come with a timely reminder from the BC Safety Authority (BCSA) to ensure that all home appliances are safe and working properly. Due to the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning, the BCSA stresses the importance of having appliances serviced annually by a licensed contractor.

According to the BC Safety Authority, which regulates the safety of the propane and natural gas industry in BC, the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is low but it can be life threatening. The BCSA reminds people in all BC communities to ensure their appliances such as stoves, dryers, furnaces hot water tanks and fireplaces are regularly cleaned and maintained by a professional, licensed gas contractor.

"Homeowners should hire a licensed gas contractor who will service major appliances to ensure safe operation. For extra peace of mind, install a carbon monoxide detector in your home as a secondary precaution," says Wayne Lock, BC Safety Authority Gas Safety Manager. "It is also critical that people never try to use outdoor propane equipment inside as this can cause serious health hazards."

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, toxic gas. If trapped in a poorly ventilated area, it can cause symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, headache, vomiting or nausea, loss of manual dexterity, confusion, and in severe cases, unconsciousness and even death.

The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from regularly maintained appliances that are properly ventilated is extremely low. However, every homeowner should be aware that even a small amount of carbon monoxide is dangerous.

Signs of carbon monoxide at home to watch out for include:

  • Dying house plants and stale, stuffy air
  • 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 forming 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:

  • Leave the house or building immediately.
  • On your way out, do not smoke, operate electrical switches or devices, use any phone, or create any other source of ignition.
  • Call your gas supplier's emergency response number or 911 as soon as you are in a safe area.

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

  • Install a carbon monoxide detector labeled with the latest Canadian Standard CSA 6.19-01
  • 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.
  • Keep your windows slightly open for ventilation when using a wood fireplace or operating large fans in a tightly sealed house.
  • Use appliances only for the purpose for which they are intended

The British Columbia Safety Authority keeps people safe by mandating the safe installation and use of technical equipment. BCSA also issues permits and licences, educates, and conducts on-site inspections in high-risk situations.

For more information about gas safety visit the BCSA web site at http://www.safetyauthority.ca/safety-information/homeowners/gas.

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