Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odourless and colourless gas that is produced any time we burn fuels like natural gas, propane, gasoline, wood, coal, etc. In high enough concentrations, carbon monoxide is poisonous and can cause severe illness or even death. It is the number one cause of deadly poisonings in North America. We produce CO everyday, most often when heating or cooking, and there are several appliances in our homes that can cause a potential carbon monoxide leak, including furnaces, hot water heaters, fireplaces, grills, stoves, and all other types of fuel-powered appliances or tools.

What are the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath

Long-term exposure, or exposure to higher concentrations can cause much more severe symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Fainting or losing consciousness
  • Death

While everyone is at risk of CO poisoning, some of us are a little more at risk than others. Senior citizens and small children, as well as those of us with breathing problems, heart diseases, or anemia are more vulnerable to the effects of exposure. Thankfully, there are a number of precautions we can take in order to minimize our risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

How Can I Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

The only way to be 100% sure about the presence of CO is with a certified carbon monoxide detector. Underwriters Laboratories of Canada is an independent inspection and certification company that ensures products meet rigorous testing standards accredited by the government of Canada. So make sure to look for the logo of the Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC), or Underwriters Laboratories Incorporated (cUL) to ensure your carbon monoxide detector has been properly tested and certified.

ulc

While CO detectors are the best way to protect ourselves from carbon monoxide poisoning, there are a number of other things we can do to prevent build-up of the gas in the first place:

  • Install a battery operated carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your house, following the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Be sure to replace the batteries at least once a year. CO detectors are readily available at stores like Wal-Mart, Canadian Tire, Home Depot, Rona, and most other types of hardware stores.
  • The best place to install a CO detector is near our bedrooms, as we are most vulnerable to carbon monoxide when we’re sleeping.
  • If the carbon monoxide alarm ever sounds, immediately remove everyone from inside the house, call 911, and wait in an area with plenty fresh air for emergency services personnel to arrive.
  • Only purchase gas appliances that are certified and regulated by a national inspection agency.
  • Be sure that all of your fuel-burning appliances are properly ventilated and that all the pipes are properly sealed.
  • Have all your fuel-burning appliances regularly checked and serviced by certified professionals.
  • Be sure that your fireplace is properly sealed and ventilated, and have your chimney checked and cleaned annually.
  • Never use portable gas or charcoal grills or heaters indoors.
  • Never use your stove or oven to heat your home.
  • Never leave your vehicle running in your garage, especially if your garage attached to your home. Also, be sure to have a mechanic regularly inspect the exhaust system on your vehicle for leaks.

At Canuck Plumbing and Heating, we take carbon monoxide safety very seriously and we’re working hard to help protect our customers in the Edmonton and Fort Saskatchewan area from dangerous CO leaks. Call us today to have your gas appliances serviced or replaced, and to ensure your house is safe from gas leaks for you and your family.

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