British Columbians at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning due to improper gas appliance installation
Technical Safety BC investigates two fatal incidents highlighting the deadly dangers associated with carbon monoxide
Vancouver, BC (August 26, 2020) – The findings of two recent Technical Safety BC investigations into fatal exposures to carbon monoxide highlights the need for greater public awareness of this silent, but deadly danger. This includes the risk posed to homeowners and visitors to remote and recreational properties.
The first incident took place in Egmont on the Sunshine Coast on June 27 that resulted in the death of one person and critical injuries to another. More recently, two people died in a second incident in Tulameen in the Okanagan, on August 3.
“Both incidents occurred on recreational properties where the owners had completed their own installations of propane-burning appliances,” said Jeff Coleman, Technical Safety BC Director of Risk and Safety Knowledge. “Due to the nature of off-the-grid and recreational properties we tend to see a lot of well-intentioned, but potentially dangerous DIY installations.”
In the Egmont incident, which occurred at a cabin on a recreational property, investigators identified propane appliances that were installed improperly and not certified for use in Canada. While at Tulameen, an on-demand propane tankless water heater was found to have been improperly installed in a shower building. DIY installations are known to present a greater risk of carbon monoxide exposure, and the incident investigation reports into both of these incidents revealed that appliances were installed in a hazardous manner inconsistent with Canadian code and certification standards.
"Although it can be difficult to find licensed contractors and installers for remote properties, these incidents show the importance of ensuring all fuel-burning appliances are installed safely and to the manufacturer’s specifications,” added Coleman.
Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas produced when fuels are burned incompletely, including propane, natural gas, oil, wood, charcoal, alcohol, kerosene, or gasoline. Exposure to carbon monoxide interferes with the body’s ability to absorb oxygen and breathing in too much carbon monoxide can result in serious injury or death.
Because of the nature of the symptoms, many victims never realize they are being exposed until it is too late. As such, Technical Safety BC and other health and safety experts strongly advocate for all homes to have a working carbon monoxide alarm.
“While carbon monoxide usually leads to headaches and nausea as initial symptoms, there are times where it simply causes you to pass out,” said Dr. Bruce Campana, Clinic Professor and Hyperbaric Physician at Vancouver General Hospital. “Carbon monoxide alarms are like wearing a seat belt – most of the time you don’t need them, but when you do, you really do.”
British Columbians who are looking to have gas-fueled appliances installed in their homes or recreational properties can use Technical Safety BC’s tool to find certified individuals to install, maintain and inspect regulated gas systems and equipment.
Visit Technical Safety BC’s website for more information on both the and incidents.
About Technical Safety BC
Technical Safety BC (formerly BC Safety Authority) is an independent, self-funded organization that oversees 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. For more information, visit
Technical Safety BC Media Relations
T: 778 396 2164