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

BC senior championship: Tie breakers to decide men’s, Richter goes undefeated in women’s

Marilou’s Richter’s Penticton/Kamloops team cruises to final with perfect record.

Firefighters extinguish early-morning blaze in Rossland

Neighbour alerted family of four, no injuries reported

Rescued snowmobilers ill-prepared for emergency, Castlegar RCMP say

Two men rescued Wednesday night were not ready for overnight in back country

Police share more details on occupants and suspicious van in Fruitvale

Vehicle in question offered young girl a ride to school on Feb. 19

Senior curling provincials setting up for exciting finish

Standings tight as Senior curling teams push for provincial playoffs

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Sledder dies near Fernie

Fernie Search and Rescue was tasked by the RCMP to respond to a sledder in medical distress

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Most Read