Many Canadians die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning in their own homes — most of them while sleeping. Hundreds are hospitalized, which often results in permanent disability. Everyone is at risk – 88% of all homes have something in them that poses a carbon monoxide threat. In fact, the issue of carbon monoxide is such a danger that landlords across different provinces must provide a detector with each rental.
Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, toxic gas that enters the body through the lungs during the breathing process. It replaces oxygen in the blood and prevents the flow of oxygen to the heart, brain and other vital organs.
Where does carbon monoxide come from?
Carbon monoxide is produced when carbon-based fuels are incompletely burned, like:
- Natural gas
- Heating oil
What are sources of carbon monoxide in my home?
- Wood burning/gas stove
- Gas refrigerators
- Gasoline engines
- Kerosene heaters
How can I tell if carbon monoxide is leaking in my home?
- Headache, nausea, burning eyes, fainting, confusion, drowsiness
- Often mistaken for common ailments like the flu
- Symptoms improve when away from the home for a period of time
- Symptoms experienced by more than one member of the household
- Continued exposure to higher levels may result in unconsciousness, brain damage and death
- The elderly, children and people with heart of respiratory conditions may be more sensitive to carbon monoxide
- Air feels stale or stuffy
- Excessive moisture on windows or walls
- Sharp penetrating odour or smell of gas when furnace or other fuel burning appliance turns on
- Burning and pilot light flames are yellow/orange, not blue
- Pilot light on the furnace or water heater goes out
- Chalky white powder or soot build up occurs around exhaust vent or chimney
How can I protect my family?
- Regularly maintained appliances that are properly ventilated should not produce hazardous levels of carbon monoxide
- Have a qualified service professional inspect your fuel burning appliance(s) at least once a year
- Have your chimney inspected and cleaned every year by a W.E.T.T. certified professional
- Be sure your carbon monoxide alarm has been certified to the Canadian Standard Association (CSA) CAN/CGA 6.19 standards or the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 2034 standard.
- Install a carbon monoxide alarm in or near the sleeping area(s) of the home
- Install the carbon monoxide alarms(s) in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
What Should I Do if my Carbon Monoxide Alarm Starts Beeping?
ALWAYS REACT TO A CARBON MONOXIDE ALARM THAT HAS ALARMED! GET OUT OF YOUR HOME AND CONTACT YOUR LOCAL FIRE DEPARTMENT FOR ASSISTANCE.
You have a responsibility to know about the dangers of carbon monoxide. Your knowledge and actions may save lives.
A carbon monoxide alarm is a good second line of defense. It is not a substitute for the proper care and maintenance of your fuel burning appliance(s). Take the time to learn about the use of carbon monoxide alarms in your home to ensure you are using the equipment properly and effectively.
Test your carbon monoxide alarm regularly to make sure it is operating properly. The owner’s manual should tell you how to test your alarm. Remember to check the manual for information on when to buy a new carbon monoxide alarm.