Raising the alarm during first Carbon Monoxide Awareness week

November 1, 2019

British Columbia’s first Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week kicks off today, from Nov. 1 to 7, and the Kelowna Fire Department wants to help keep you safe by being carbon monoxide (CO) aware.

“Carbon monoxide is both an odourless and colourless toxic gas which makes it especially dangerous,” said Rick Euper, Fire and Life Safety Educator and Inspector with the Kelowna Fire Department. “While thankfully we have not had a CO-related death in recent years in Kelowna, last year we did receive 54 calls related to CO exposure. I can’t stress enough the importance of having a working carbon monoxide smoke alarm in your house, preferably on every floor. It can save your life.”

The toxic gas is produced when fuels are not burned completely, including natural gas, propane, wood and gasoline. If exposed, symptoms could include the following: chronic headaches, nausea, drowsiness, impaired judgement and loss of coordination. In extreme exposure cases it can cause death. According to the BC Coroners Service, in the past 10 years, there were almost 120 deaths in the province due to CO poisoning.

Last April, the Kelowna Fire Department partnered with FortisBC to knock on doors in the Lower Mission and Rutland neighbourhoods checking for working CO alarms. Of the 458 homes checked, 272 had working CO alarms. Firefighters gave and properly installed a combined CO and smoke alarm provided by FortisBC in 168 homes.

This inaugural B.C. Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week is a great time to think about how you can keep your family and home safe. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • If your house has an attached garage, natural gas or fuel burning appliances or a wood stove you should have CO alarms on every floor
  • Install a CO alarm in bedrooms or hallways near sleeping areas on each level of your home
  • If you already have a CO alarm, great! Make sure to test it and change the batteries twice a year
  • If your CO alarm is more than 10 years old, it’s time to replace it

In addition to a working CO alarm, one of the best ways you can stay safe is to have your natural gas appliances installed and maintained annually by a licensed gas contractor.

For additional information about carbon monoxide safety visit kelowna.ca/fire.