SaskEnergy is warning everyone about carbon monoxide (CO), they describe it as an invisible, odourless, silent, and poisonous killer.
“To save lives and prevent life-threatening emergencies, it’s important that we continue to educate people about the dangers of carbon monoxide and ways to avoid the buildup of this potentially deadly gas,” Minister Responsible for SaskEnergy Don Morgan said. “That’s why our government has proclaimed November 1-5 as Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week in Saskatchewan.”
SaskEnergy says earlier this year, the perils of carbon monoxide were driven home to SaskEnergy Service Technicians Drew Heinen and Chris Stinson. The pair were responding to a carbon monoxide call at a townhouse caused by a vehicle left idling in a garage. When they arrived at the door to one of the units, they met a disoriented elderly man who passed out in front of them. Heinen immediately told firefighters at the scene to call an ambulance, and the man was taken to the hospital for treatment.
“It was pretty bad for the people living there. This man could have died,” Heinen said. “Make sure you have CO detectors in your home. That would have caught this a lot sooner for him and for a lot of other people.”
The confusion felt by the man Heinen encountered is just one symptom of carbon monoxide poisoning, explained SaskEnergy. Others include feeling drowsy, blurred vision, headaches, and nausea. If you notice these symptoms in yourself or someone you know, evacuate the location and seek medical attention.
While carbon monoxide poisoning can be scary, it’s also preventable. That’s why, since July 1, 2022, a CO alarm is required in Saskatchewan residences on each floor where there are bedrooms—either installed inside each bedroom or in the hallway within five metres of the bedroom doors.
“Installation of carbon monoxide detectors is the best way to know if there is CO in your house before symptoms occur,” said Jeff Hannotte, a gas inspector with the Technical Safety Authority of Saskatchewan (TSASK). “Regular maintenance of gas-burning equipment and inspection of venting systems by qualified gas contractors is very important in the prevention of carbon monoxide incidents”.
Hannotte recommends homeowners keep an eye out for ice and snow that could be blocking chimneys or intake and exhaust vents. They should also perform regular maintenance on fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, stoves, dryers, water heaters, and fireplaces. Using portable fuel-burning appliances like generators, heaters, or camps stoves indoors can also be a source of carbon monoxide.
“Carbon monoxide exposure puts you and your family at risk and can become deadly within minutes,” the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency President Marlo Pritchard said. “I encourage everyone to ensure they have working carbon monoxide detectors in their home, as required by law, and to test them regularly.”