Some say ignorance is bliss, but nothing could be farther from the truth when it comes to carbon monoxide (CO).
Known as the silent killer, it is a gas that is tasteless, colorless and odorless. Exposure can lead to illness and even death. Wherever combustion takes place, CO is present - whether that be from a wood burning fireplace, gas stove, gas dryer, furnace, water heater, or even the engine from your vehicle. This gas is harmful because it can rapidly accumulate in the blood, depleting the ability of blood to carry oxygen.
It is imperative that preventative measures are taken to ensure the health and well being of your family.
According to Statistics Canada, Carbon Monoxide exposure has accounted for 380 accidental deaths in Canada between 2000-2009. Many may remember the tragedy that occurred in Brantford, ON in 2008 that involved OPP officer Laurie Hawkins. A lack of carbon monoxide alarms in the home in conjunction with a blocked chimney vent resulted in the death of officer Hawkins, her husband and two children.
The following is a list of the most important actions you can take to keep your family safe and prevent this type of tragedy from reoccurring.
- Make sure you have a working (CO) detectors installed in your home. It is mandatory to have one installed on any floor that people are sleeping on. If you are awake, you may feel the symptoms of (CO) – headache, vomiting and confusion. But these will go unnoticed while sleeping. Make sure to change the batteries each year and set a note in your calendar. Additional (CO) detectors are recommended on remaining floors but are not mandatory. Please note that you should not install a detector beside a window or door leading to the outside of your home.
- Have all gas burning appliances checked on a yearly basis by a qualified technician.
- During a power outage or furnace breakdown, NEVER use your gas oven to heat your home, or bring in your gas barbeque or gas generator indoors.
- Keep all vents clear of snow, debris, or even garbage bins as these may block your exhaust systems.
- If you have an attached garage, NEVER run the vehicle idle while inside the garage.
- In the event that your (CO) alarm does go off – promptly open doors and windows to ventilate your home. Turn off any gas appliances and contact a heating professional immediately.
These steps are important to ensure your family remains safe and further carbon monoxide tragedies do not occur.
Stay informed and stay safe!