British Columbia Safety Authority

British Columbia Safety Authority

December 23, 2008 09:00 ET

British Columbia Safety Authority: Cold Snap Raises Chances of Carbon Monoxide Deaths

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Dec. 23, 2008) - The BC Safety Authority (BCSA) is raising the flag on the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning as people burn more fuel to stay warm during this cold snap that has put a chilling grip on the entire province.

"The risks of carbon monoxide poisoning rise in this kind of weather as we use our gas-fired heating appliances more often," said Wayne Lock, BCSA's provincial gas safety manager.

Already, there have been five recorded incidences of carbon monoxide poisoning in BC recently, including close calls in which several people required medical attention. There have been no reported fatalities.

Carbon monoxide can be produced when burning fuel and is dangerous in a closed or non-ventilated area. This applies to turning on gas-fired appliances, burning wood and other forms of fuel, along with shutting windows.

Three keys to indoor carbon monoxide safety are:

- Have your gas appliances serviced annually by a BCSA licensed contractor;

- Never use indoors gas equipment that is meant for outdoors (such as heaters, camping stoves, lanterns and BBQs); and

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

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

- Flu-like symptoms like dizziness, fatigue, headache, vomiting, nausea; and

- Loss of manual dexterity, confusion, unconsciousness and even death.

Signs of carbon monoxide to watch out for are:

- 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; and

- Abnormal condensation on windows and walls.

Lock stated that "the problem with carbon monoxide is that you can neither smell it nor see it, that's why it's called the silent killer." Most victims die during their sleep in a poorly ventilated house or while sitting in an idling car.

The BC Safety Authority's 2007 State of Safety Report notes that carbon monoxide poisoning caused two fatalities and six injuries that required hospitalization.

If you suspect carbon monoxide is present:

- Open doors and windows immediately;

- Get fresh air outside;

- Turn off all heating appliances;

- Seek medical advice; and

- Have a licensed gas contractor inspect your home and gas appliances.

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 safety tips, go to the BCSA website on / Safety Information / Public Safety Tips.

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