Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, tasteless and odourless gas that can be deadly. CO is produced when fuels like propane, gasoline, natural gas, heating oil, or wood do not burn completely in fuel-burning appliances and devices such as furnaces, fireplaces, hot water heaters, stoves, barbecues, portable heaters and generators. Having a properly installed and maintained carbon monoxide alarm is the only warning of dangerous CO gases in your home.
- Your CO alarm sounds differently than your smoke alarm. Test both alarms monthly (press the test button) and make sure everyone in your home knows the difference between the two alarm sounds.
- Replace batteries every year according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Learn the difference between the CO alarm's low-battery warning, end-of-life warning and an emergency alarm. Be sure to check the CO alarm manufacturer's instructions.
What do I do if the CO alarm sounds?
- Exposure to CO can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea and dizziness, as well as confusion, drowsiness, loss of consciousness and death.
- If your CO alarm sounds and you or other occupants suffer from symptoms of CO poisoning, get everyone out of the home immediately. Then call 9-1-1 from outside the building.
- If your CO alarm sounds and no one is suffering from symptoms of CO poisoning, check to see if the battery needs replacing, or the alarm has reached its "end of life" before calling 9-1-1.
How do I prevent the build up of CO in my home?
- ensure fuel-burning appliances, chimneys and vents are cleaned and inspected by professionals every year before the cold weather starts
- ensure vents from the dryer, furnace, stove, fireplace and other fuel-burning appliances are always clear of snow and other debris
- gas and charcoal barbeques must be outside, away from all doors, windows, vents and other building openings; never use barbeques inside garages, even if the garage is open
- portable fuel-burning generators must be used outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from windows, doors, vents and other building openings
- ensure all portable fuel-burning heaters are vented properly, according to the manufacturer's instructions
- never use the stove or oven to heat your home
- open the flu for adequate ventilation before using a fireplace
- never run a vehicle or other fuelled engine or motor inside a garage, even if the garage doors are open
- always remove a vehicle from the garage immediately after starting it
Fire prevention and investigation