What is carbon monoxide?
- Carbon monoxide (CO) is known as the silent killer because it is an invisible, tasteless and odourless gas that can be deadly.
- CO is produced when fuels such as propane, gasoline, natural gas, heating oil or wood do not burn completely in fuel-burning appliances and devices such as furnaces, fireplaces, hot water heaters, stoves, barbeques, portable heaters and generators or vehicles.
What to do if the CO alarm sounds
- Exposure to CO can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea and dizziness, as well as confusion, drowsiness, loss of consciousness and death.
- If your CO alarm sounds and you or other occupants suffer from symptoms of CO poisoning, get everyone out of the home immediately. Then call 9-1-1 or your local emergency services number from outside the building.
- If your CO alarm sounds and no one is suffering from symptoms of CO poisoning, check to see if the battery needs replacing, or the alarm has reached its “end-of-life” before calling 9-1-1.
How to prevent the build-up of CO in your home
- Ensure fuel-burning appliances, chimneys and vents are cleaned and inspected by professionals every year before cold weather sets in.
- Ensure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, fireplace and other fuel-burning appliances are always be clear of snow and other debris.
- Gas and charcoal barbeques must be used outside, away from all doors, windows, vents, and other building openings. Never use barbeques inside garages, even if the garage doors are open.
- Portable fuel-burning generators must be used outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from windows, doors, vents and other building openings.
- Ensure all portable fuel-burning heaters are vented properly, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Never use the stove or oven to heat your home.
- Open the flu for adequate ventilation before using a fireplace .
- Never run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor inside a garage, even if the garage doors are open. Always remove a vehicle from the garage immediately after starting it.
Testing and replacing CO alarms
- Test CO alarms every month by pressing the test button.
- Replace batteries every year. Replace CO alarms according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Know the sound of the CO alarm
- Your CO alarm sounds different than your smoke alarm. Test both alarms monthly and make sure everyone in your home knows the difference between the two alarm sounds.
- Know the difference between the CO alarm’s low-battery warning, end-of-life warning and an emergency alarm – consult the CO alarm manufacturer’s instructions.