As temperatures dip and we crank up the heat, the risk for carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning significantly increases. The arrival of cold weather is a timely reminder for all of us to take the proper precautions to help protect our families from harm. Here’s what you need to know about CO:
Hidden threat: Dubbed the “silent killer,” CO has no smell, taste or colour and it strikes most during the winter, when more fuel-burning appliances are used to heat homes. Carbon monoxide sources may include, but are not limited to, heaters, fireplaces, furnaces, appliances or cooking sources using coal, wood, petroleum products or other fuels emitting CO as a by-product of combustion. Attached garages with doors, ductwork or ventilation shafts connected to a living space can also be sources.
The risk: Carbon monoxide is responsible for more than 300 deaths each year and is the number one cause of accidental poisonings, according to Statistics Canada. Compounding the issue and concern is that CO poisoning is notoriously difficult to diagnose, often until it’s too late. The symptoms mimic those of many other illnesses including nausea, headaches, dizziness, weakness, chest pain and vomiting. In more severe poisoning cases, people may experience disorientation or unconsciousness, or suffer long-term neurological disabilities, cardiorespiratory failure or death.
Take action: Equipping your home with working carbon monoxide alarms is the only way to detect this poisonous gas. For premium protection against both CO and fire, the First Alert 10-Year Battery Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm is equipped with a sealed battery that powers the alarm for a decade – eliminating the need to replace the batteries for the life of the alarm. Install CO and smoke alarms on each level of your home, including the basement, as well as in and near every sleeping area. If CO symptoms appear, or if an alarm sounds, get everyone outside to fresh air immediately and then call 911.