Carbon Monoxide Safety

DF Safety Health and Safety Tips

As we eagerly anticipate the welcome of spring, most of us have considered the dangers of carbon monoxide in our homes. However, it is important to keep in mind that carbon monoxide poisoning can happen during the warmer months as well, especially if you have natural gas appliances in your home. So, while your furnace continues to run, and for when it’s not, we want to ensure that you, and your loved ones stay safe. 

What is Carbon Monoxide? 

Carbon monoxide is often referred to as a silent killer. Since it is a deadly gas that can’t be detected by smell, taste, or sight, you could be breathing in toxic fumes without realizing it before it’s too late.  

“Carbon monoxide is gas that has no odor, taste, or color. Burning fuels, including gas, wood, propane or charcoal, make carbon monoxide. Appliances and engines that aren’t well vented can cause the gas to build up to dangerous levels. A tightly enclosed space makes the buildup worse.” –Mayo Clinic  

When exposed to high amounts of carbon monoxide, poisoning can happen in less than five minutes, under lower concentrations, it can take an hour or two. 

Since this gas affects the brain and hear the most, it is imperative to act quickly if you have been exposed. In some instances, symptoms might be mistaken as the flu (minus the fever). Other symptoms can include the following: 

  • Headache 
  • Weakness 
  • Dizziness 
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Confusion 
  • Blurred vision 
  • Drowsiness 
  • Loss of muscle control 
  • Loss of consciousness 

Tips to stay safe 

To help avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, there are several precautions you should take: 

  • Hire a professional to inspect your gas furnace, fireplaces, and gas water heaters at least once a year
  • Avoid using your kitchen oven or gas range as an alternative heat source if you find your furnace isn’t working. 
  • Be sure to install carbon monoxide detectors in your home and test them regularly to ensure they are working effectively. 
  • When using your fireplace, make sure it is properly ventilated. 
  • In colder temperatures you are more likely to run your vehicle before driving. If doing so, don’t run your car in your attached garage. It is safer to back your vehicle into the driveway to keep fumes from lingering into your home. 
  • Never use a charcoal or propane grill inside of your home or garage. 

If you experience symptoms, leave the premises and call 9-1-1. If your carbon monoxide detector goes off, exit your house, or apartment immediately and call 9-1-1. Do not re-enter your home or attempt to find where the leak is coming from. 

According to a 2017 study conducted by the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit and the University of the Fraser Valley, there are more than 300 deaths and more than 200 hospitalizations related to carbon monoxide poisoning each year in Canada. It was also found that Alberta, Ontario, and British Columbia were reported to have the highest number of CO-related hospitalizations.  

We don’t want you, or your family, to become a statistic so it is important to be aware and educated about the risks associated with carbon monoxide poisoning. By taking the proper precautions, you will help keep your home safe all year long.