Carbon monoxide poisonings in B.C. prompt warning about detectors

A family of five from Barriere was airlifted to a hospital in Vancouver in serious but stable condition on Thursday

Repairman Checks Carbon Monoxide Level on Furnace Duct

A senior paramedic in British Columbia is encouraging homeowners to buy carbon monoxide detectors and inspect their appliances following a spike in poisonings in the past week.

Leon Baranowski, paramedic practice leader with B.C. Emergency Health Services, says the colourless and odourless gas can be emitted from fuels including wood, gasoline, coal and propane when they don’t burn completely.

“At this time of year, as people start to turn on their water heaters, their gas appliances, fire places and panel heaters in unventilated spaces, carbon monoxide has the potential to build up in that environment. Over time, that can start to overcome patients and affect them,” Baranowski said.

A family of five from Barriere, B.C., was airlifted to a hospital in Vancouver in serious but stable condition on Thursday. Two family members were unconscious when they were pulled from their home and the monitors worn by paramedics indicated high levels of the gas when they entered the home.

RELATED: B.C. family airlifted to Vancouver due to carbon monoxide exposure

On Wednesday, 13 people with carbon monoxide poisoning were taken to hospital from an office building in Vancouver. Energy company FortisBC said a technician identified a problem with a boiler.

There were at least another three cases on the Lower Mainland in the past week, said Emergency Health Services communications officer Shannon Miller.

Paramedics in the province respond to about 100 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning over the course of the year, she said.

Baranowski said patients at the lower end of the spectrum can present cold and flu-like symptoms, including a dull headache, weakness, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.

“As the symptoms progress after prolonged exposure, that can lead to increased shortness of breath, confusion, blurred vision, loss of consciousness and, in the worst case, even death. Carbon monoxide starts to replace oxygen in the body, which we all need to function,” he said.

RELATED: B.C. couple survives carbon monoxide scare

Paramedics treat patients with oxygen. In more serious cases, patients may enter a pressurized chamber for hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which involves raising the pressure in the chamber and delivering oxygen at a high pressure.

Certain populations are more at risk, including children and the elderly, he said.

Carbon monoxide detectors are between $50 and $100 to purchase he said, and when the alarm sounds that means it’s time to get out of the building quickly.

If multiple people start to experience symptoms in the same room or house, that’s also a signal that there could be a carbon monoxide leak in the house, he said.

“Ultimately if people take quick action and we get there, then they stand a better chance of having no neurological deficits and no lasting outcomes,” he said.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

High winds could lead to dangerous snowmobiling conditions

Advice for staying safe on the mountains Family Day weekend

Clearwater Library hosting open house

Event takes place Feb. 15 from 2—4 p.m.

Province announces $100-million grant funding for Northwest communities

The Northern Capital and Planning Grant will go to four regional districts and 22 municipalities

Road conditions for Feb. 15

Slippery sections on Highway 5

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Ammonia leak shuts down curling club in Nelson

It’s not yet clear when the leak was detected

Pavelski’s 31st goal helps Sharks top Canucks 3-2

Vancouver one point out of second NHL wild-card spot

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Names keep adding to vaccine petition started by B.C. mom

Maple Ridge mom started campaign to make vaccination a condition of attending school

Most Read