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Don’t skate on thin ice – CO poisoning at ice rinks

If you were asked to name some places where carbon monoxide (CO poisoning) may occur, your first thought may be places like hotels and commercial kitchens, as well as people’s homes. However, CO poisoning can take place in venues you may have not thought of before, like an ice rink.

Indoor ice rinks are big business in the United States and Canada, with over 4,500 rinks between the two countries (statista.com). Not only can people lace up their skates for some recreational skating, but they can watch ice hockey games too.

So.. where does the danger of CO poisoning come from?

Ice resurfacing machines (often know as ‘Zambonis’) are used on a regular basis to keep the ice on the rink smooth. These machines are powered by diesel, gas or propane. If these fuels are incompletely burned, carbon monoxide is generated. As the ice resurfacing machines work in enclosed spaces, the gas does not have opportunity to ventilate, and can build up over time.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause health problems for humans even in low concentrations. Initial symptoms include dizziness, nausea, tiredness and confusion. If exposure is prolonged, blood is no longer able to carry oxygen around the body, potentially causing brain damage, heart disease or even death.

A recent incident saw 19 university hockey players from Wentzville, Missouri taken to hospital to be treated for carbon monoxide poisoning after they reported feeling sick after a game. Firefighters tested the arena and found CO concentrations of 200 parts per million (ppm). OSHA recommend a maximum exposure rate of 35ppm over an eight-hour period.

Thankfully, all players were released from hospital unharmed, but it could have been a very different story.

This isn’t the first time such an incident has taken place. In 2014, 81 people were hospitalised after an ice hockey game in Wisconsin. In 2011, two people had to be treated in a hyperbaric chamber following a gas leak at an ice hockey game in Colorado.

How to prevent carbon monoxide risks at ice rinks

The risk of poisoning can be eliminated by using electric-powered ice resurfacing machines, but these are expensive.

If a new resurfacing machine is not an option, your ideal solution is to purchase a carbon monoxide gas safety detector.

Here at Analox we’re constantly developing our products and hope to offer a CO sensor option in the not so distant future for our new Ax60+ multi-gas monitor, which will allow you to monitor multiple gases in your ice rink. For example, if you wanted to monitor both carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide (for example, if you sell soda or beer and use CO2 for carbonation), then you would be able to set up sensors for both gases.

So, keep your customers safe and ensure you are not skating on thin ice by factoring carbon monoxide protection into your risk assessment today.

Author: Kate Ingham, Digital Marketing Executive

Founded in 1981, Analox Sensor Technology provides niche and custom gas detection solutions to industries including beverage and fast food, commercial diving and laboratories. Analox has over 325 years of collective, specialist electronics and software engineering expertise, as well as a worldwide distributor network. Contact us to see how we can provide expert gas monitoring solutions and help you achieve your goals.

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