Carbon Monoxide Safety

While most of us have heard of carbon monoxide (CO) and know it’s dangerous, that’s pretty much as far as it goes. CO is an invisible, silent and odourless toxic gas, often referred to as the “silent killer”.

This week, November 1–7 is CO Awareness Week in Alberta. With winter closing in and heating season in full swing now’s the time to make sure your home is protected against CO.We are thrilled to have partnered with our friends at ATCO to provide you some useful information and a GIVEAWAY!

First things first, what is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide, often referred to as CO, is an invisible, silent and odourless toxic gas and is very difficult to detect. Every year, ATCO responds to approximately 3,000 service and emergency calls related to CO. In an enclosed space, such as a home or garage, CO exposure can lead to serious illness or even death.

Where Does CO come From?

There are two main ways CO is produced in our homes. One, from natural gas appliances that are performing improperly including your Furnace, Hot water heater, Dryer, Stove or Fireplace. Secondly, CO is produced by exhaust from Gas and diesel vehicles, Gas-powered machines (mower, blower etc) Wood-burning fireplaces. Many of us have the majority of these in our homes- if not all!

What are some signs you or a loved one has been exposed? 

  • Headache and dizziness
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Watering and burning eyes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of muscle control

What Can we do to lower our risk?

There are a few very effective ways to mitigate CO risk in our homes. Have your fuel-burning appliances checked by a qualified technician regularly according to manufacturers’ specifications. As well, it’s important to ensure your CO alarm is installed and maintained according to manufacturer’s instructions and vehicles aren’t idling in the garage. With the cold weather, we want to make sure our vehicles are warm for our commute. Be safe and remember to keep your garage a no idle zone. Pull your vehicle out of the garage to warm up so your garage doesn’t get CO build up.

We are also using this as an opportunity to educate our children and our aging parents by sharing some of the specific suggestions below.

FURNACES AND OTHER NATURAL GAS APPLIANCES

  • Have your furnace and other natural gas appliances (such as your hot water heater, natural gas stove, etc.) checked regularly by a qualified technician, according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

  • Check your filter monthly. For a disposable filter, be sure to replace it when it’s dirty. You may also have a permanent filter that requires regular cleaning.

  • Check your furnace flame monthly. You should see a clear blue flame. Call a qualified technician if you see a yellow flame.

  • Never plug or cover vents designed to supply air to your gas appliances.

  • Keep the area around your furnace free of clutter.

  • Keep your furnace’s panels and grills in place.

  • Do only the maintenance you are comfortable with. For anything else, call a qualified technician.

 IN A GARAGE

  • Never idle a vehicle in a garage, even with the door open.

  • Make sure that your garage is properly ventilated.

  • Maintain your garage heater according to manufacturer’s instructions.

WOOD-BURNING FIREPLACE

  • Always have an adequate fresh air supply before you start a wood fire.

  • Open a nearby window if your fireplace does not have its own air intake.

  • Always keep chimneys and vents clear and clean.

AROUND THE HOME

  • Never run exhaust fans, power attic vents or central vacuum systems for a long time.

  • Never use a charcoal barbecue or portable gas grill inside.

  • Check your indoor and outdoor vents monthly, looking for rust, soot buildup, cracks or blockages. If you see any, call a qualified technician.

DETECTION – CO ALARM

  • Install at least one carbon monoxide alarm in your home. One alarm per floor is recommended. If you only have one, place it near bedrooms.

  • Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing and maintaining your alarm.

  • Write its expiry date on it with a marker so you know when to replace it.

  • Vacuum it monthly. Replace battery annually, if applicable. 

If you don’t have a CO detector- you can find them at your closest home improvement retailer, or win one here on our Instagram page!

We hope you found this post helpful, and a huge thank you to ATCO for choosing us to help spread the word about Carmon Monoxide safety! Feel free to visit ATCO’s website to download the safety checklist for yourself! 

Leave a Comment