Carbon Monoxide is known to be the “silent killer.” This colourless, odourless and tasteless gas can be extremely harmful to humans; it can even kill. In fact, carbon monoxide poisoning is the number one accidental poisoning in North America.
What causes carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is produced by gas or oil furnaces, space and water heaters, clothes dryers, ovens, wood stoves and other household appliances that run on fossil fuels such as wood, gas, oil or coal. Now that the winter is here, windows, doors and any other opening into the house will be tightly sealed from the cold. This can allow the carbon monoxide in the air to easily rise to a deadly level which can cause severe harm.
Recently my sister had her carbon monoxide alarm go off in the middle of the night. She and her husband did the right thing by immediately calling for the fire department to come. Luckily it was a false alarm, and in fact, the alarm was expired by 10 years. Many people don’t even know that the alarms expire, however, just like a baby car seat, they have an expiry date and they should be checked yearly.
My Uncle Jim, who has recently become a fire chief in my home town of Mitchell, Ontario, was on-call the night my sisters alarm went off. He told her she did the right thing by calling 9-1-1 for fire immediately and getting the family out of the house. Recently he was filmed in a video talking about carbon monoxide. You can view the video below to have more of an idea of how serious it can be!
Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause flu-like symptoms. Some of the early warning signs of low-level poisoning may include tiredness, headaches, dizziness, nausea or vomiting and shortness of breath.
It is important to take all precautions to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home, especially outside of sleeping areas. If you are asleep you may not experience the possible warning symptoms until it’s too late.
Check the batteries and expiry date yearly. Perhaps January 1st could be a good day to check both fire and carbon monoxide detectors.
Have qualified professionals inspect and clean your furnaces and vent pipes to be sure no birds nests, twigs or other materials are obstructing proper ventilation.
Remember if you have symptoms or if your alarm sounds, get everyone out of the building immediately and call 9-1-1.
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