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Carbon monoxide poisoning incident brings dangers of the gas to light

Island community adult and child go to hospital for treatment
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A safety officer monitors levels of carbon monoxide near a fireplace. (Photo by Paul Joseph)

A case of carbon monoxide poisoning in Chemainus last Tuesday in the midst of Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week Nov. 1-7 comes as a stark reminder about the dangers of the colourless, odorless and tasteless flammable gas.

An adult and child went to hospital for treatment to their carbon monoxide exposure. They were fortunate not to require transport by ambulance and the symptoms were not believed to be serious.

But Laura McLeod, a Communications Business Partner with Technical Safety BC based in Nanaimo, indicated the BC Coroners Service reports there have been 119 carbon monoxide-related poisoning deaths in the province between 2008 and 2017.

McLeod said notification of the Chemainus incident was received from Fortis BC.

“In this case, we have learned the CO was likely caused by a malfunctioning gas fireplace,” she added.

It was unclear whether the fireplace had been serviced by the landlord at the rental property or someone else without a permit, but that was expected to be determined by a full incident investigation.

“Installation and maintenance of natural gas appliances in rental properties must be done by a licensed contractor, under the appropriate permit,” stressed McLeod. “The home also did not have a carbon monoxide detector which we recommend that everyone have, including renters.”

Plug-in varieties with battery back-up are available, she pointed out.

“We really recommend a tenant consider getting one of those, they’re very inexpensive,” said McLeod.

Technical Safety B.C. is the provincial regulator of gas safety in B.C. and observed the awareness week by passing along information about the risks of carbon monoxide exposure.

It’s a potentially deadly issue that people need to educate themselves about, McLeod stressed.

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It’s important to have gas-fueled appliances, including fireplaces, serviced regularly. (Photo by Paul Joseph)


Don Bodger

About the Author: Don Bodger

I've been a part of the newspaper industry since 1980 when I began on a part-time basis covering sports for the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle.
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