For many British Columbians, this is the time of year for a vacation, and of course a good reason to clean out tents and RVs, or open up cottages and cabins.
Before engaging yourself in any of these activities, please take some time to make sure your natural gas or propane appliances are in safe working order.
Portable fuel burning appliances should only be used outside where they are properly ventilated. Also, read and understand the manufacturer’s certified instructions regarding the safe operation and maintenance of your appliances.
BC Safety Authority (BCSA) recommends you carefully inspect all gas equipment prior to use and ensure that the carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in your RV or recreational dwelling are in good working condition.
CO alarms and portable propane appliances are required to bear Canadian approval typically to a CSA standard. Recognized or approved certification marks for gas and electrical appliances can be found on BCSA’s website.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas that is produced by the incomplete combustion of carbon fuels such as propane, natural gas, wood, charcoal, alcohol, kerosene or gasoline.
When portable fuel-burning appliances are used outdoors they are fine, but in an enclosed space – like a tent, RV, cottage or cabin – CO can become trapped, creating a hazardous and potentially lethal environment for anyone inside.
From 2007 to 2013, a total of 62 CO-related incidents were reported to and investigated by BCSA. These incidents resulted in nine fatalities and 110 non-fatal injuries. You can find more details covering seven years of CO incidents and injuries in the gas section of BCSA’s State of Safety Report 2014.
Inhalation of CO interferes with the body’s ability to absorb oxygen, which can result in serious illness or even death. Symptoms of CO poisoning can include: light-headedness, headaches, nausea, fatigue, chest pains, vomiting, convulsions, confusion and dizziness. If you suspect you have been exposed to CO, turn all appliances off, leave the dwelling immediately and seek the nearest available medical attention.
To keep your recreational space safe, be sure to obtain all necessary permits before undertaking home improvements to your cottage or cabin. Permits help ensure gas and electrical installations are done safely and according to code. If you aren’t sure whether work requires a permit, contact BCSA for more information.
For more information about carbon monoxide poisoning and gas appliance safety, as well as information about how to choose the appropriate CO detector or locate a licensed gas contractor in your area, visit: http://www.safetyauthority.ca/carbon-monoxide.
Additional web links:
• BCSA Information Bulletin: Quick Reference – Annual Servicing For Gas Appliances
• BCSA Information Bulletin: Full Version – Annual Servicing For Gas Appliances
The BC Safety Authority is an independent, self-funded organization mandated to oversee the safe installation and operation of technical systems and equipment. In addition to issuing permits, licences and certificates, it works with industry to reduce safety risks through assessment, education and outreach, enforcement, and research.