carbon monoxide detector

The Silent Threat of Carbon Monoxide

DF SafetyHealth and Safety Tips

As we welcome November, we know that winter isn’t far away. For most of us, this will mean more time spent indoors with our windows tightly shut, furnaces working hard, and cozy evenings spent relaxing at home. While we don’t want to scare you, these actions also mean your chances of carbon monoxide poisoning increase during the colder months. 

So, today, let’s chat about a few things you should do to stay safe. 

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. 

To avoid this from happening, there are several precautions you should take: 

  • Hire a professional to inspect your gas furnace, fireplaces, and gas water heaters. 
  • 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. Install detectors outside bedrooms or near sleeping areas! 
  • When using your fireplace, make sure it is properly ventilated. 
  • During frigid temperatures, you’re more likely to warm up 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. 

Carbon monoxide poisoning can often present like a cold or flu, making it difficult to recognize the differences. Early symptoms might include headache, shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, nausea. Higher levels of CO poisoning symptoms might include, vomiting, loss of consciousness, coma, or death. 

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. 

Other signs of CO presence include stale indoor air, moisture or soot buildup on windows or walls, a yellow flame instead of blue in natural gas appliances, and a pilot light that frequently goes out. 

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.  

Daylight savings ended this weekend, so this is a great time to check the batteries in both your carbon monoxide detector, as well as your smoke detectors in your home. Also, don’t forget to set your clocks back an hour! For more information regarding CO poisoning and treating symptoms, as well as other tips on preventing workplace injuries, check out this online course

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 both safe and warm this winter season.