Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odourless, and tasteless gas that is slightly less dense than air. It is toxic to humans and animals when encountered in higher concentrations. The main sources of carbon monoxide in your home are:
- Wood burning stoves
- Gas stoves
- Gas water heaters and furnaces
- Cars warming up in the garage
- Kerosene heaters
Prevent carbon monoxide in your home
- Ensure fuel-burning appliances, chimneys and vents are cleaned and inspected annually. Visit COSafety.ca to find a registered contractor near you.
- Check that all outside appliance vents are not blocked.
- Gas and charcoal barbeques should only 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 should only 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 manufacturer’s instructions.
- Never use the stove or oven to heat your home.
- Open the flu before using a fireplace for adequate ventilation.
- 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.
Installing your carbon monoxide alarm
Here are a few things to consider when installing your carbon monoxide alarm:
- Install at least one carbon monoxide alarm outside all sleeping areas in your home.
- Install carbon monoxide alarms where they can be heard.
- Carbon monoxide is roughly the same weight as air and will distribute evenly, so carbon monoxide alarms can be installed at any height.
Know the sound of your carbon monoxide 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.
- Don't be confused by the sound of your CO alarm's low-battery warning. Follow your CO alarm manufacturer's instructions so you know the difference between the low-battery warning, the 'end-of-life' warning, and the alarm alerting you to the presence of CO in your home.
What to do if your carbon monoxide alarm goes off
Here are the top three things you must do if your carbon monoxide alarm is activated:
- Get everybody outdoors immediately.
- Call 911 from a safe location.
- Keep all windows and doors closed, after everyone has left the house, to allow for an accurate reading of carbon monoxide levels.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning
The following are all symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning:
- Shortness of breath
- Flu-like symptoms
If you or your family members are experiencing any of these symptoms you may be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. If these symptoms are less severe when you are outside of the home it may also be a sign of a carbon monoxide problem in the house. If you feel that you are suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning you should call 911 as well as get proper medical attention.
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