Risks of Carbon Monoxide Exposure and Simple Tips to Prevent Poisoning

mother and daugter. carbon monoxide safety tips and carbon monoxide poisoning prevention

Carbon Monoxide: Risks and Simple Tips to prevent Poisoning

While most of us have heard of carbon monoxide (CO) and know it’s dangerous, we don’t know a whole lot of the specifics! If this is you, you are not alone! I recently did some research on Carbon Monoxide, and learnt a ton about the risks of Carbon Monoxide poisoning, as well as safety protocols, so I wanted to pass on that valuable information and a few helpful poison prevention tips! 

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 Carbon Monoxide. We are thrilled to have partnered with our friends at ATCO to provide you some useful information to keep you and those you love safe!

mother and daughter. how to keep your loved ones safe from carbon monoxide poisoning

What is the definition of 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, Carbon Monoxide exposure can lead to poisoning, serious illness or even death.

importance of a carbon monoxide monitor to keep safe from carbon monoxide poisoning

Where Does Carbon Monoxide come From?

There are two main ways Carbon Monoxide 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) and 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 to Carbon Monoxide and may have Carbon Monoxide poisoning? 

  • 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 of Carbon Monoxide exposure?

There are a several effective ways to mitigate Carbon Monoxide risk, and prevent Carbon Monoxide poisoning in our homes. One easy safety tip is to have your fuel-burning appliances checked by a qualified technician regularly according to manufacturers’ specifications. Another important thing is to ensure your CO alarm is installed and maintained according to manufacturer’s instructions. As well, make sure vehicles aren’t idling in the garage. I know with the cold weather encroaching, we want to ensure our vehicles are warm for our commute, but its more important to keep safe from possible poising. We suggest pulling your vehicle out of the garage to warm up, so your garage doesn’t get a build up of Carbon Monoxide.

Carbon Monoxide poisoning prevention checklist

Use this as an opportunity to educate children, friends and aging parents by sharing some of the specific suggestions below to prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning!


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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 Carbon monoxide detector- you can find them at your closest home improvement retailer for a reasonable price!

keep your loved ones safe from carbon monoxide poisoning with these easy tips

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! 


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