Can't see, smell or taste killer
Carbon monoxide deadliest when people asleep

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (NOV 08/96) - Many people will have close calls this winter with deadly carbon monoxide poisoning says Mike Lowing, Yellowknife's deputy fire chief.

He's seen many cases of dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in homes and can recall families being evacuated by the fire department.

Checks conducted by the fire department last November and December detected levels of the deadly gas in 30 per cent of the buildings inspected.

Lowing recalls the case of a mother and four kids who had severe carbon monoxide poisoning. He says cases like that can be prevented.

He says one of the most common ways the gas leaks into the home is through the chimney.

It usually happens in the winter when the chimney liner collapses under the pressure of ice buildup, trapping gases which seep into the house.

Lowing recommends that chimneys be inspected this time of year, before the winter frost sets in.

Heaters and boilers are also linked to carbon monoxide poisoning and should be inspected.

In addition, people can be protected with a carbon monoxide detector, similar to a smoke detector. They are available at stores around the city for a cost of $45-75.

These detectors are highly effective in detecting the gas.

A detector is sensitive to one part per million with the alarm blaring at 100 parts per million. Any indication something's wrong, Lowing says call the fire department.

"It's a scary thing when one of these goes off and you can't smell it, taste it or see it," he says.

Children, smokers and those with respiratory problems are most susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning, feeling the flu-like symptoms first.