Every year, hundreds of people become ill due to carbon monoxide poisoning; some of those people die. We need to be vigilant about this danger.
Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas that is produced as a by-product of combustion. Furnaces, wood stoves, space heaters, barbeques, automobiles and cigarette smoke are all sources of carbon monoxide.
At low levels, carbon monoxide can cause fatigue in healthy people and chest pains in people with heart disease. Chronic exposure to low levels of this gas can result in flu-like symptoms that disappear when the victim leaves the contaminated area. At higher concentrations, victims can suffer a range of health effects including nausea, impaired vision and coordination, dizziness, confusion and headache. Loss of consciousness and death can result from exposure to very high levels.
What can be done to protect your family? While most people will not have access to accurate air sampling equipment, there are several steps that can be taken to reduce your risk of exposure.
- Install a CSA approved carbon monoxide detector in your home or workshop.
- Keep gas appliances properly adjusted and maintained.
- Use the proper fuel in kerosene space heaters.
- Choose externally vented space heaters rather than non-vented units.
- Use an externally vented exhaust vent over your gas stove.
- Fully open the flue when using a fireplace.
- Make sure that your woodstove is properly sized and installed.
- Have your central heating system professionally inspected every year.
- Do not idle your vehicle in the garage for more than a few minutes.
Carbon Monoxide (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)
The presence of carbon monoxide (CO) in our homes is dangerous. So, how can you protect your family from carbon monoxide? How do you choose the right CO detector for your home?