The death of a 12-year-old boy has been blamed on the improper installation of a tankless water heater. The death, occurring in early February, is being blamed on a water heater that was not properly ventilated. The water heater seeped carbon monoxide into the boy’s home, leading to levels as high as 2,100 ppm in the building.
Investigators continue to look into the boy’s death.
Tankless water heaters are safer than their older counterparts. Even the best electric tankless water heater needs to have proper ventilation checks after installation. Professionals recommend annual ventilation checks as well as checks during the water heater’s ongoing maintenance.
Fire chief Garth Rabel suggests that all gas appliances, including tankless water heaters, should have a professional check performed annually.
The professional will check to ensure that leaks aren’t occurring in the system. Investigators are still unsure of what went wrong with the water heater. Professional installers claim that even without the right ventilation, it’s uncommon to see that level of carbon monoxide leaked.
Carbon monoxide detectors are being recommended following the incident.
Friends and family of the deceased are petitioning to have a provincial requirement that every home must have a carbon monoxide detector installed. Legislators in Alberta required new homes built since 2006 to have CO detectors installed, but the legislation has not impacted older homes.
Mandatory laws for CO detectors have been passed in Ontario and Yukon only.
Friends of the family vow that they will do everything in their power to make carbon monoxide detectors as important as fire detectors in homes. The petition already has over 6,000 signatures.
The petition is also asking for landlords to be held accountable for carbon monoxide leaks and deaths.
The condo where the boy lived was also the site of a carbon monoxide leak in 2014. The building was completely evacuated in 2014 by the fire department as carbon monoxide levels rose above acceptable levels. There is no further information on whether the recent death is linked to the incident in 2014.
The boy was taken to the hospital in critical condition when he was found in his Calgary home. Two other family members in the home were also in the hospital for treatment. Another resident in the building also sought treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning.
Emergency medical services were called to the 136-unit complex on a medical distress call.
Emergency responders immediately noticed the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, residents in six of the 136-units are not allowed to return to their homes while the investigation continues. Fire department officials promptly ventilated the building to ensure that other residents wouldn’t suffer from poisoning.
Investigators will work with the fire department and coroner before deciding on what charges, if any, will be imposed on the owner of the building.
The child’s name will not be released to the public.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, vomiting, shortness of breath, blurred vision, confusion, weakness, dizziness, nausea and loss of consciousness. Immediate fresh air and medical care are required to lower the risk of death associated with carbon monoxide poisoning.