Beware of carbon monoxide and check your alarms

Firefighter during a fire exercise
Photo: LS Ogle Henry, Formation Imaging Services

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Carbon monoxide alarms are now mandatory in all homes and residential buildings.

Carbon monoxide 101

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, tasteless and odorless gas produced when fuels such as propane, gasoline, natural gas, heating oil or wood have insufficient air to burn completely. This can happen in any appliance or device that burns these fuels such as a stove, furnace, fireplace, hot water heater, vehicle engine, portable generator, etc.

Exposure to CO can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea and dizziness, as well as confusion, drowsiness, and loss of consciousness. In high concentrations, it can be fatal.

Carbon monoxide alarms

CO alarms and smoke alarms are two important safety features that help keep our families safe.

CO alarms range in price from approximately $26 to over $100 depending on whether they are hard-wired, battery operated or plug-in and whether they have additional features (i.e. battery back-up, digital display, etc.). The average mid-range plug-in/battery back-up model is between $35 and $40 per unit.

Maintenance

All homeowners who have existing CO alarms must comply with the maintenance requirements. Homeowners may have an existing CO alarm in their homes because it was installed to meet the Building Code, a municipal bylaw, or because he/she wanted one in their home for their own safety. These new changes now make sure homeowners keep the CO alarm in good working order according to manufacturer’s instructions.  For more information, contact your local fire department.

CO safety is a shared responsibility. Canadians are encouraged to learn about the risks associated with CO inhalation, and install and maintain CO alarms as required by new regulations. Homeowners and landlords are now obligated to install CO alarms.

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