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The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide & How To Protect Your Family

October 29, 2014 - Updated: October 29, 2014

 

As of October 15th 2014, provincial legislation requires carbon monoxide detectors to be mandatory in all Ontario homes, just as smoke detectors.  Carbon monoxide detectors will now be required to be installed near bedrooms in residential homes and in multi-unit buildings (apartments, condominiums, etc.) in suites containing a fuel burning appliance. 

According to the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, approximately 12 people in Ontario will die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning. It is important to understand the dangers of carbon monoxide and how you can keep you and your family safe. 

 

What Is It?

Carbon monoxide (CO)  is an invisible, poisonous gas that poses dangerous health effects if the proper precautions are not taken in your home.  It is an odourless, tasteless and colourless gas making it difficult to detect.

At high levels, CO replaces oxygen levels in the bloodstream, leading to suffocation.  In many cases, people are unaware they are even being exposed to CO until it is too late. 

 

How Is CO Produced?

Carbon monoxide is naturally produced as a result of burning fuels such as natural gas, oil, gasoline, propane, wood, coal and methane.  Fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, wood stoves, and space heaters all produce CO.  When household appliances have not been properly installed or malfunction, they can release CO into your home.

Outdoor fuel burning equipment such as lawnmowers, generators and barbeques all produce CO.  The danger occurs when these appliances are brought into areas that do not allow for proper ventilation, such as a garage.

 

Symptoms

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning varies from person to person, these factors include age, overall health and a the level of CO exposure. 

According to Health Canada, low exposure of CO can cause headaches, flu-like symptoms, shortness of breath and impaired motor functions. High levels of CO or if you are exposed to low levels of CO over a long period of time, symptoms can include, dizziness, chest pain and vision problems.  While very high levels of CO exposure can include convulsions, coma and even death.

 

How To Protect Yourself

CO cannot be detected without a carbon monoxide detector. Health Canada recommends installing at least one carbon monoxide protector in your home, specifically in hallways outside bedrooms where you will be able to hear them.  Be sure to follow the manufactures instructions for proper installation, testing and replacement.  Make sure all household appliances have been installed correctly and are properly maintained.

Never bring outdoor appliances into an enclosed space such as a tent, a car, a camper or a garage, even with the door open.  Always ensure chimneys aren't blocked by debris, nests or snow and have them professionally cleaned and inspected annually (Health Canada, 2014).

 

 

 

Source: Government of Canada. Health Canada. Carbon Monoxide: Fact Sheet.  2014.  http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/media/nr-cp/_2014/2014-015fs-eng.php


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