Understanding the dangers of carbon monoxide exposure

Recently a propane refrigerator in an off-grid cabin was omitting carbon monoxide. The cabin owner installed and maintained this propane refrigerator and one year had missed the annual cleaning of the burner area and the flue pipe. 

As a result the burner flame was partially blocked by small flake of debris, altering the flame slightly which caused it to not burn cleanly but rather produce carbon monoxide (CO) – a colourless, tasteless, odourless but deadly gas. Symptoms of CO poisoning can range from headache to vomiting to loss of consciousness.

A low level of CO filled the cabin over the weeks it was unoccupied.  Upon arrival family members soon felt nauseous, misinterpreting CO symptoms with food poisoning or a simple headache, resulting in a tragedy.

Read the full incident report.

How to prevent carbon monoxide exposure on your summer vacation

In a cabin or vacation rental, gas-fired furnaces, boilers, hot water tanks, stoves, dryers, and fireplaces can generate carbon monoxide. Only a carbon monoxide alarm will detect the presence of CO. Make sure the vacation rental lists a CO detector, or pack a portable one.

  1. Pack a portable carbon monoxide detector
  2. Leave fuel-burning appliances outside
  3. Don't ignore the sound of a CO alarm

Visit our carbon monoxide page for more details on CO poisoning symptoms, what to do if you suspect a CO leak and key prevention tips.