Carbon Monoxide Safety

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas formed by the incomplete combustion of fuels. When people are exposed to CO gas, the CO molecules will displace the oxygen in their bodies and lead to poisoning.

In Canada, each year there are more than 300 CO related deaths and over 200 hospitalizations.

The Problem with CO

Carbon Monoxide has no odor, color or taste, making it impossible to be detected by human senses alone.

Dangerous concentrations of the gas can build up indoors whenever a material burns.

─Clothes dryers

─Water heaters

─Furnaces or boilers

─Fireplaces, both gas and wood burning

─Gas stoves and ovens

─Motor vehicles

─Grills, generators, power tools, lawn equipment

─Wood stoves

─Tobacco smoke

─Burning Coal

Detection and Prevention

The good news is that carbon monoxide poisoning can be detected with simple actions such as installing a CO alarm and prevent the possibility of a build up by maintaining fuel burning appliances

 

Additional risks to manage to avoid build up of CO at your home;

─Never burn coal indoors without proper ventilation

─Do not leave your car running in your garage – especially with the garage door closed

─Heat your house with your stove- this can lead to a buildup of CO in your house

─Use a generator inside your house.

Routinely inspect your CO alarms to ensure that batteries are still effective and the alarm is functioning as intended

Symptoms of CO poisoning
  • Weakness

  • Dizziness

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Shortness of breath

  • Confusion

  • Blurred vision

  • Loss of consciousness

What to do in an emergency

If you suspect you have been exposed to CO, your first response should be to get into fresh air and then immediately call 911.

Do NOT try to simply open windows to let it “air out”, while waiting indoors.

Be prepared to answer some basic questions for yourself or family members to first responders, such as;

─Possible sources of carbon monoxide exposure

─Signs or symptoms, and when they started

─Any mental impairment, including confusion and memory problems

─Any loss of consciousness

─Other medical conditions with which the affected person has been diagnosed, including pregnancy Smoking habits