Carbon Monoxide Safety

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is impossible to see, taste or smell, and it can kill you before you realize it is in your home. Learn how to protect yourself and your family.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

  • CO is a colourless, odorless, tasteless and toxic gas produced by the incomplete burning of fossil fuels.
  • CO is produced when burning fuels like gasoline, propane, natural gas, oil, wood or coal.
  • Fuel burning appliances like your furnace normally produce insignificant amounts of carbon monoxide unless you don’t properly use or maintain them.

What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?

  • CO poisoning can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, tightness of the chest, dizziness, fatigue, confusion and breathing difficulties.
  • CO poisoning often causes a victim’s blood pressure to rise, possibly giving the victim’s skin a pink or red cast.
  • High concentrations of CO can kill within a few minutes.

What can I do to prevent Carbon Monoxide poisoning?

  • Install CO detectors in a central area on every floor and near sleeping areas.
  • Digital display models show the CO level, rather than simply beeping.
  • Place detectors at least five feet above the ground, as CO rises with warm air in the house.
  • Hard-wired and plug-in models won’t work during a power outage.
  • Test your CO detectors monthly and replace batteries every six months.
  • Replace your CO alarms every 5 years, as they lose sensitivity over time.

What are some other safety considerations?

  • Get a professional to inspect and clean all fuel-burning heating systems in your home including furnaces, boilers, fireplaces and water heaters, once a year.
  • Consider replacing your natural gas-fired furnace. Models built after 1987 include “flame roll-out protection technology,” which prevents flames from spilling out of the combustion chamber.
  • Never run your gas barbecue indoors or in an enclosed area.

What if you suspect someone has Carbon Monoxide poisoning?

  • Move the person to a place of fresh air immediately.
  • Take the person to an emergency room and tell them you suspect CO poisoning.

Smoke and CO Alarms Wear Out!

Smoke detector showing expiration date has passed

When is the last time you checked your smoke alarm / Carbon Monoxide detector expiration dates?