Regina Fire and Protective Services are set for another busy winter, and that extends beyond dealing with fires. Fire Marshall Randy Ryba said that the start of heating season means the start of carbon monoxide (CO) calls.
“We typically run on two to three a day when the heating season kicks in,” Ryba said.
The colourless and odorless gas can lead to loss of consciousness, brain damage and even death. This is because when it is inhaled it prevents red blood cells from carrying oxygen throughout the body.
“If your carbon monoxide detector does activate, we ask people leave the home immediately and call 911 from a safe location. We will respond and do tests within your home,” Ryba said.
Common causes of carbon monoxide in a home can include a defective furnace heat exchanger, blocked chimney on fuel burning appliances and idling vehicle in an attached garage.
In order to mitigate the risk, Ryba recommends having your home’s heating system checked regularly. Tyler Beresh, from Reliance Mackenzie Plumbing and Heating, said this inspection should be done annually.
“It’s something that you can be proactive, and catch it before it becomes a problem,” Beresh said.
It’s been a busy start of heating season for Reliance Mackenzie. Beresh said they bring along professional-grade CO detectors to inspection calls just in case.
“A lot of times when our team members get out to places that have been exposed to carbon monoxide, the homeowner’s not even aware of the concerns,” he said.
Beresh said calls involving carbon monoxide from his time as a field technician stick out to him. These situations can quickly become more serious than the standard service call.
“A lot of the time with carbon monoxide you might not experience any of the symptoms and feel fairly well, but you may have problems later down the road,” he said.
“We have seen times where people have noticed more severe symptoms hours after being exposed to carbon monoxide.”
This is why Beresh suggests seeking getting checked out by a medical professional if exposed to the gas.
Ryba reinforced this message when it comes to a gas, known as a silent killer in first responder circles.
“It’ll sneak up on you. Typically some of the signs are flu-like symptoms, headaches, dizziness and the like, but nothing replaces a working carbon monoxide alarm,” Ryba said.
The fire marshal recommends having a CO detector outside of every sleeping area in the home.