What is Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odourless, colorless, toxic gas. It is produced when fuels are burned incompletely. There is an extremely low risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from regularly maintained appliances that are properly ventalated.
Improperly installed or poorly maintained appliances that use fuels (gas, oil, coal, wood, charcoal, kerosene, propane or natural gas) may create unsafe levels of CO.
Preventing Carbon Monoxide Hazards
There are steps you can take to prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide in your home.
- Immediately move your car out of the garage after starting it. This prevents exhaust fumes from seeping into the building through connecting doors or vents.
- Review the manuals provided with your fuel burning appliances.
- Have your fuel burning appliances checked annually by a qualified service technician or heating contractor.
- Check that chimneys and vents are not corroded or blocked (by snow or other debris.)
- Keep combustion air inlet ducts clear of debris.
- Use appliances only for the purpose for which they are intended.
- Do not operate chainsaws, lawn mowers, snow blowers in a closed area (garage, workshop etc).
Purchasing a Carbon Monoxide Alarm
When you buy a CO alarm, make sure that it is certified to Canadian standards. Products with CSA 6.19-01 on the packaging have been tested to the Residential Carbon Monoxide Alarming Devices standards. The alarm will also show a replacement date.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation, proper use and maintenance. CO alarms are usually installed between sleeping areas and your appliances.
Symptoms of CO Poisoning
Exposure to CO can cause symptoms such as dizziness, headache, nausea, fatigue, burning eyes, vomiting or loss of muscle control. As there can be many other causes for these symptoms, including the flu, CO poisoning is often difficult to diagnose.
Other warning signs include:
- stale or stuffy air
- excessive moisture on windows and walls
- soot buildup around appliances and vents
- a yellow flame in a natural gas appliance instead of blue
- a pilot light that keeps going out