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Staying Safe at Home: It's Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week in Ontario

Nov. 2, 2021
3 mins
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This article has been updated from a previous version.

How safe is the air you are breathing at home?

As part of Ontario’s annual Carbon Monoxide (CO) Awareness Week (Nov. 1-7), Ontario’s Office of the Fire Marshal (OFC) is advising homeowners to check their CO alarms to ensure they are working, as well as inspect all fuel-burning appliances, chimneys, and outside vents around their dwellings.

In Ontario, the law requires all homes with a fuel-burning appliance such as a gas furnace, fireplace, or attached garage have a CO alarm installed. Ensure your CO alarm detector is certified by the Canadian Standards Association, replace its batteries twice a year, and keep it clear of dust and debris.

"It's essential to have all fuel-burning appliances inspected by a registered contractor to check for leaks and ensure there is no build-up of carbon monoxide happening," said Ontario Fire Marshal Jon Pegg in a press release. "Carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer because it is an invisible, tasteless and odourless gas that can be deadly, and only carbon monoxide alarms can detect the presence of this lethal gas. Install alarms in your home and test them monthly."

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How to identify CO poisoning

The OFC recommends the following ways you can protect your family from the dangers CO gas poses:

  • Look for signs of exposure which could include flu-like symptoms including headaches, nausea, dizziness, confusion, drowsiness, and loss of consciousness.
  • If your CO alarm sounds, get everyone out of the home and into the fresh air and call 9-1-1.
  • Read the manufacturer's instructions for your CO alarm to know the difference between the sound of an alarm and the sound of a low battery or end of life warning. A CO alarm sounds different from a smoke alarm. Test it monthly and make sure everyone in your home knows the difference between the sounds of each.
  • Never run small engines or operate barbecues indoors as they can produce a lethal amount of CO gas.
  • When using a generator, ensure it is placed outdoors in a well-ventilated area.

The Technical Standards and Safety Authority estimate more than 65% of injuries and deaths from CO poisoning occurs inside residential homes in Ontario. The Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General advises homeowners, as well as tenants and condo owners, install a CO detector in their units, especially if your home’s bedrooms, apartment, or condo is located near the building’s service or boiler room.

Protecting your family from the “Silent Killer”

Any home or condo that has a fuel-burning appliance, or an attached garage, needs to have a CO detector. Install one on every level in your home. It may also be a requirement in your home insurance policy. You don’t want to file a claim because of CO poisoning and see your claim rejected because you did not have an alarm in place.

Liam Lahey

Liam Lahey is a versatile marketer with experience as a staff and freelance writer for many business and technology publications and newspapers. He previously worked as the editor and media spokesperson for RATESDOTCA, handling home, auto, and travel insurance topics.

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