Beat the silent killer: Prevent CO in your home

Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week, November 1 to 7

Guelph, Ont., November 4, 2020 – It’s Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week and we’re reminding you to prevent carbon monoxide (CO) in your home by getting all fuel-burning appliances inspected annually.

Carbon monoxide is a toxic, invisible, tasteless and odourless gas that can be deadly.

“In Ontario, more than 65 per cent of injuries and deaths from carbon monoxide occur in the home,” says Matt Valeriote, assistant chief fire prevention officer with the Guelph Fire Department. “And we want everyone to be safe from carbon monoxide. That’s why it’s so important to get all fuel-burning appliances inspected by a registered contractor.”

You can find a registered contractor at COsafety.ca.

CO is produced when fuels such as propane, gasoline, natural gas, heating oil or wood do not burn completely in fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, hot water heaters, gas or wood fireplaces, portable fuel-burning heaters and generators, barbeques, stoves and vehicles.

If you have fuel-burning appliances, a fireplace or an attached garage, you should also have a CO alarm in your home.

“You must have a working CO alarm adjacent to each sleeping area of your home if you have a fuel-burning appliance, a fireplace or an attached garage,” says Valeriote. “For added protection, install a CO alarm, according to manufacturer’s instructions, on every storey of your home.”

If you live in a condo or apartment building with a service room, CO alarms must be installed in the service room and adjacent to each sleeping areas of all homes above, below and beside the service room. In condo or apartment buildings that have a garage, CO alarms must be installed adjacent to each sleeping area of all homes above, below and beside the garage.

Prevent CO in your home

  • Clean and inspect fuel-burning appliances, chimneys and vents annually. Visit COsafety.ca to find a registered contractor near you.
  • Check that 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.

Know the symptoms of CO

  • Exposure to CO can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea, 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 911 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 911.

Know the sound of your CO alarm

  • Your CO alarm sounds different from 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.

For more information

Matt Valeriote, Assistant Chief Fire Prevention Officer
Fire Prevention Bureau, Guelph Fire Department
519-822-1260 extension 2136
[email protected]