With the cooler weather here our thoughts turn to getting the household ready for winter. Summer toys are tucked away, a tune-up and tire check is ordered for the car and boots have been bought for the kids.
Heating the house is a big part of the Canadian winter ritual and people with fuel burning furnaces should be thinking about the safety of their heating systems.
Carbon Monoxide Gas
Fuel burning furnaces and appliances (those using wood, gas, propane, oil, kerosene or other fuel) can produce carbon monoxide gas as a by-product of the burning process.
You can't see, smell or taste this gas and it is very dangerous.
Carbon monoxide enters the bloodstream through your lungs when you breathe, robbing your vital organs of oxygen. The first signs you are breathing in the gas can include symptoms like dizziness, headaches, nausea, fainting and weakness.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal. The Canadian Safety Council reports that in Ontario alone, from 2001 to 2007, there have been 74 accidental deaths from asphyxia due to vehicle exhaust and furnace fumes. On October 15, 2014, the Ontario Government formally enacted a new law - The Hawkins-Gignac Act - making it mandatory that all Ontario homes have working CO alarms installed near sleeping areas.
Printable Carbon Monoxide Fact Sheet
- Replace CO detectors within the time frame indicated in the manufacturer's instructions and/or on the label on the unit. Some new CO alarms offer sealed lithium batteries that last 10 years.
- Have your fuel burning appliances inspected annually to ensure they are in proper working order and vented correctly.
- If you think you have a problem with an appliance, shut if off and leave the house. Get medical attention immediately if you have symptoms.
- If your alarm goes off, get everyone out of the house, stay out and call 911!
Check Your Appliances
Any fuel burning appliance like your stove, dryer, water heater, furnace, or space heater can produce carbon monoxide. You can reduce the risk of carbon monoxide buildup in your home by following these safety tips:
- Be sure appliances are properly installed, vented and maintained
- Have a qualified professional service heating appliances, furnaces, water heaters and dryers every year
- Have chimney flues inspected, cleaned and maintained regularly
- Avoid the use of unvented combustion heaters indoors
- Check out any unusual odours or sounds coming from an appliance
- Know the built-in safety features of your appliance
- Install a “ULC certified” or "CSA certified" carbon monoxide detector near the sleeping areas of your home.
Where can I get more information?
For more information on carbon monoxide call Health Connection to a public health professional call Monday to Friday 705-721-7520 (1-877-721-7520).