Carbon Monoxide – The Silent Killer

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that you cannot see, smell, or taste.  The incomplete burning of fossil fuels such as natural gas, propane, heating oil, kerosene, coal, charcoal, or wood products produces CO.

Examples of carbon monoxide producing devices commonly in use around the home include:

Fuel fired furnaces (non-electric)
Gas water heaters
Fireplaces and woodstoves
Gas stoves
Gas dryers
Charcoal grills
Lawn mowers, snowblowers and other yard equipment

Symptoms of CO poisoning

Exposure to CO can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, burning eyes, confusion, drowsiness, and even loss of consciousness.  In very severe cases, CO poisoning can cause brain damage and death.

What can create a CO hazard?

  • Fuel burning appliances, venting systems and chimneys that have not been serviced and maintained regularly by a qualified service technician or heating contractor.
  • Improper venting of a furnace and/orcracked furnace heat exchanger.
  • Using fuel-burning appliances designed for outdoor use (e.g. barbeques, lanterns, and chainsaws) in a closed area such as a tent, garage, or home.

What should I do if I suspect CO in my home?

If you or anyone else in your home is experiencing the symptoms of CO poisoning, leave immediately and get medical help. Call 9-1-1 or your local fire department.

If a CO detector alarm sounds in your home, open all doors and windows to ventilate. If you can’t find the problem and the alarm continues, leave the building and contact your local gas utility or a qualified heating contractor to check your fuel burning equipment.

About CO detectors

The Carbon Monoxide Awareness Committee recommends installing only CO detectors that bear the CSA CAN/CGA 6.19 standard or the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 2034 standard.

At least one CO detector should be installed at knee-height, adjacent to the sleeping area of your home.  Please refer to the manufacturer’s instruction for proper use and maintenance.

CO hazard prevention

CO detectors are not a substitute for the care and maintenance or the proper use of your fuel burning appliances. Regular maintenance by a qualified technician and safe use of this equipment are key activities to help prevent a CO hazard. Don’t let your family be the next victims of the ‘SILENT KILLER’.