It’s Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week (Nov. 1-8) and a post on this important and somewhat newly trending topic is in order! An understanding of what carbon monoxide (CO) really is and why it's important to our health and in our homes is still spreading amongst the public, so it's important that we keep it going!
Did you know that more than 50 Canadians die every year from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning? That includes almost 11 on average in Ontario alone. By the numbers, there’s a plethora of other dangers that take more human lives, but whatever awareness that can be raised to save even a few is a well worthy cause.
CO is a colorless, tasteless and odorless gas that is produced from the incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels, such as wood, natural gas, propane, oil and gas, to name a few. So as you can guess, any fuel-burning appliance can be a source of CO within your home. It’s for this very reason that there has been a recent push to ensure that all homes are equipped with CO detectors, a recommendation that is now mandated by Ontario’s Fire Code (initially addressed in the 2001 Ontario Building Code). As per the new regulation, CO detectors will now be required near all sleeping areas in residential homes and in the service rooms, and adjacent sleeping areas, in multi-residential units. Other notable mentions include:
- Testing and maintenance requirements that apply to smoke alarm now apply to CO alarms
- Under the Fire Code amendments, CO alarms will be required in existing residential occupancies, where:
- Single dwelling homes (e.g., privately owned homes) have an attached storage garage and/or a fuel burning appliance.
- CO alarms will be required only near sleeping areas of these occupancies and not throughout the entire home.
- Multi-unit buildings (e.g., apartment buildings or condominium buildings, hotels, etc.) have an attached storage garage and/or a fuel burning appliance/service room. Within these buildings, CO alarms will only be required:
- 1.Near sleeping areas of suites that contain a fuel burning appliance within the suite.
- 2.Near sleeping areas of suites that are adjacent to a storage garage and/or service roomwith a fuel burning appliance.
CO gas disperses freely within the air (doesn’t rise like warm air), and so your alarms can be placed at any height. What’s important is the location within your home. It is recommended that you place an alarm near the primary sleeping areas of the home (one per level is also recommended). You should also aim to keep your alarms away from gas burning appliances, as offsetting fumes may trigger the detector. Be sure to use proper ventilation when using these appliances!
When inhaled, CO gas displaces oxygen in the bloodstream and deprives the brain of what it needs to work. Headache, nausea, confusion, dizziness and confusion are frequent symptoms, which improve when the individual is removed from the exposed environment. If you or anyone else in your home displays these symptoms, and you have properly installed CO alarms that signify unsafe levels, you should vacate the home immediately and contact your local fire department for help.
Much like fire safety awareness, the local fire department will be on the hunt for homes that do not have CO detectors/alarms installed. Failing to do so will come with a handsome $235 fine! So spend the money to have at least one installed, it’s well worth yours and your family’s health!