By: Kamloops This Week

The BC Safety Authority (BCSA) said the lack of a venting system caused carbon monoxide exposure, which is believed to have taken the lives of four people in Venables Valley, near Ashcroft, on March 24.

The BC Coroners Service is further investigating the cause of death and BCSA is working with the coroner.

Harvey Volaine and his wife, Melissa Penner, as well as their two children, 10-year-old Kaylex and seven-year-old Ay, died in the home.

In its investigation report, the BCSA states a “water heater was installed inside the home without a vent system attached.” The water heater was a tankless, on-demand type, in which cold water could be heated instantly by a high-output propane burner when a hot water tap was opened.

The report also notes the hazardous levels of carbon monoxide were due to “extended operation of the water heater.”

“We are saddened by the tragedy in Ashcroft,” BCSA gas-safety manager Brad Wyatt said.

“When our safety officers investigated the site, we found that the water heater was not vented to the outdoors, which means toxic gases were released inside the home while the water heater burner was in use.”

Carbon monoxide is an odourless, colourless gas produced by burning carbon fuels such as propane, natural gas, oil, wood, charcoal, alcohol, kerosene or gasoline. Exposure to CO interferes with the body’s ability to absorb oxygen, which can result in serious illness or death.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure can initially be flu-like, such as headaches, nausea, fatigue, confusion and dizziness. More severe CO poisoning symptoms can include chest pains, vomiting and convulsions

Children are at particular risk because they are affected by lower levels of CO. Other signs of a possible CO issue in a home are condensation on windows, dying plants or having an entire family sick at the same time.

“For safety, it is always best to have a licensed contractor perform any gas work,” Wyatt said. “Gas-fired appliances should be serviced by a licensed gas contractor at least once a year. It’s also important to have CO detectors on each floor of a home.”