What Is Carbon Monoxide And Where Does It Come From?
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a tasteless, colourless and odourless poisonous gas often referred to as ‘the silent killer’. It is produced when fuels such as natural gas, oil, wood, propane and kerosene don’t get enough air to burn up completely. Damaged or blocked venting as well as inadequate air flow can allow carbon monoxide to build up inside a home, cottage, camper or tent.
Always make sure your fuel burning appliances have an adequate air supply to prevent a CO hazard.
The best way to ensure that you and your family are not exposed to the dangers of carbon monoxide is to take the necessary steps to eliminate it at the source. Make maintenance of your fuel burning appliances, equipment and venting systems an absolute priority.
How Do You Detect Carbon Monoxide?
In the absence of CO alarms, the only way to know if carbon monoxide is present is if the physical symptoms of CO poisoning become apparent. But by then, it might be too late to avoid injury!
Minimize the risk by installing CO alarms. They will warn you of rising levels of CO giving you and your family the time to escape the hazard and correct the problem. CO alarms are your second line of defence against CO hazards in your home, cottage, RV, camper, boat or any setting where you use fuel-burning appliances.
CO alarms should not be installed beside smoke alarms or near fuel burning appliances. They should be installed near sleeping areas according to manufacturer’s instructions. If there are bedrooms on more than one floor in your home or cottage, then you need more than one CO alarm.
The Symptoms Of CO Poisoning
Carbon monoxide inhibits the ability of your blood to absorb oxygen. The symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu and include nausea, headache, burning eyes, confusion and drowsiness. Eventually CO poisoning can lead to unconsciousness and even death.
The key difference is that with CO poisoning, there is no fever and the symptoms tend to disappear when the person gets fresh air.
Infants and children absorb carbon monoxide faster than adults due to their high metabolic rates so the signs will show up more quickly in children.
These are warning signs. If they appear, it is imperative to get everyone, including pets, away from the source of the CO and to fresh air immediately and call 911 or the local fire department.
No carbon monoxide (CO) or smoke alarm, no matter how advanced the technology, can work if the batteries are dead, so remembering to change the batteries in your alarms is a very important safety procedure in your home.
Batteries need to be replaced once every year. A good habit to establish is to change the batteries every fall when you change your clocks.
How Old is Too Old?
Like most things, CO and smoke alarms wear out with age. They have to be replaced in order to ensure maximum effectiveness and safety for your family.
Please check the manufacturer’s instructions for information on when your particular carbon monoxide alarm or smoke alarm should be replaced.
It is a simple irrefutable fact: smoke and CO alarms save lives. They detect the threat, sound the alarm and give you and your family precious time to escape to safety.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
- Unlike smoke, which rises to the ceiling, CO mixes with air. If a combination smoke/carbon monoxide detector is used, it should be located on the ceiling to ensure that it will detect smoke effectively.
- CO alarms should not be installed near fuel burning appliances.
- When choosing a CO alarm, look for the CSA Blue Flame mark and the reference “CSA 6.19-01” – the most up-to-date Canadian standard. This shows that the alarm meet recognized standards for safety.
- Install carbon monoxide alarms adjacent to the bedrooms in your home. If there are bedrooms on more than one floor in your home then install CO alarms on those floor as well so you can hear the alarm.
- CO alarms should be installed as per manufacturer’s instructions. Follow the same manufacturer’s maintenance procedures as you would with smoke alarms.
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