During the past week, there have been several instances of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in B.C. 14 people were treated in the hyperbaric chamber at Vancouver General Hospital.
Carbon monoxide cannot be seen, smelled or tasted, but if too much is breathed in, it can become deadly.
Consider putting carbon monoxide detectors at home near sleeping areas. These carbon monoxide detectors can be purchased in any store that sells smoke detectors. They are about $30. Look for detectors endorsed by the Standards Council of Canada, such as the Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC) or the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
If your detector goes off, leave the area right away, and call 911 or go to the emergency room. If you keep breathing the fumes, you may pass out and die.
Carbon monoxide can come from any source that burns fuel. Common sources are cars, fireplaces, powerboats, wood stoves, kerosene space heaters, charcoal grills, and gas appliances such as water heaters, ovens, and dryers. Usually they cause no problems. Trouble comes when:
- Cars, trucks, or other engines are left running in enclosed spaces, such as garages. Carbon monoxide can build up in a garage and leak back into the house. Even sitting in an idling car in an open garage can be dangerous. A motorboat or jet ski that is idling or working at a slow speed can be dangerous to a swimmer or someone being pulled.
- Fuel-burning appliances (ie gas stoves) are not installed or used properly. Dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can build up inside houses and other buildings.
- Fuel-burning heating systems and appliances are used during cold weather, when doors and windows are closed. Chimneys in older buildings become blocked and release fumes into the homes or offices. Newer houses that are well insulated and tightly sealed can trap carbon monoxide inside.
- Do not leave your car running in the garage, even if the garage door is open.
- Do not ride in the back of a pickup truck with a camper shell.
- Do not swim near a boat or jet ski that is idling.
- Do not swim near or be pulled behind a boat or jet ski that is operating at a slow speed.
- Do not sit in a running car or truck if the tailpipe is blocked with snow or mud.
Have all fuel-burning appliances (such as oil or gas heaters, stoves, water heaters, and space heaters, fireplaces, and wood stoves) inspected each year.
- Check chimneys, flues, and vents regularly to make sure they are in good shape, properly connected, and not blocked.
- Never use a kerosene or propane heater in an enclosed area, such as a camper, motor home, trailer, or tent.
- Never use a gas or charcoal grill indoors.
- Never use a gas oven to heat your home.
- Do not close a fireplace or stove damper before the fire is completely out.
- Do not use gas-powered generators, lawn equipment, or engines in enclosed areas.