Carbon Monoxide Detectors in the Spotlight
December 30, 2010 - If you have been tuned in to the news lately, you will have heard about some tragic incidents involving deaths or illness due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Most recently, in Humboldt, SK, 24 care home residents, 5 employees and 2 visitors were evacuated to the Humboldt District Hospital after a leak in their boiler caused high levels of carbon monoxide gas.
The death of an 89 year old man at the care home is being linked to the carbon monoxide gas as being a contributing factor. There were no detectors at the care home when the incident occurred, but some have been installed in the building since.
Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless , and tasteless gas that results from; the incomplete burning of fuel in gas furnaces or heating systems; blocked or dirty vents, (including gas dryers) flues and chimneys; and improper ventilation of burning fireplaces or woodstoves.
Information from the Fire Prevention Canada website advises that there are approximately 200 deaths per year that are attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning. Some of the signs to watch for in a building or home include stuffy air, water vapour and back draft and soot from fireplaces. Physical symptoms of someone being affected by carbon monoxide are very similar to flu like maladies. Watch for headaches, weakness, nausea, vomiting and loss of muscle control. Being exposed for a lengthy time period could lead to lack of consciousness, brain damage and potentially even death.
It is generally recommended that a detector be installed on each floor of a home or building.
At present, in Manitoba, there is a plan moving forward to have carbon monoxide detectors mandatory in all buildings (including homes) by April of 2011. Recently announced in Saskatchewan, there is a plan in place to canvass all health regions to determine which ones already have carbon monoxide detectors, and which ones are potentially in need of an upgrade. There is no legislative requirement in Saskatchewan for monitoring in places like hospitals, nursing homes, health centres, or addiction and treatment centres; however, carbon monoxide alarms are required in places like homes, hotels, or apartments that are newly constructed or undergoing major renovations.