The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is higher in the winter

Did you know that carbon monoxide can cause health problems before you even notice its presence?

Although carbon monoxide (CO) can be present in your home or cottage at any time of the year, the risk is greater in winter months because homes in Canada are usually heated by furnaces, wood stoves, water heaters or boilers and other appliances that run on fuels. These devices can release carbon monoxide into your home if they are not installed correctly, or if they malfunction.

Breathing it in reduces your body’s ability to carry oxygen in your blood. Exposure to the gas can cause carbon monoxide poisoning and can be dangerous to your health:

  • At low levels, effects include flu-like symptoms, such as tiredness, headaches and shortness of breath.
  • At high levels, or if you are exposed to low levels for long periods of time, you can experience dizziness, chest pain and poor vision.
  • At very high levels, it can cause convulsions, coma and death.

Carbon monoxide can only be detected with a carbon monoxide alarm. You should have at least one CO alarm installed in your home. CO alarms can be purchased at any hardware or home equipment store. Install a carbon monoxide alarm certified by a certification body that is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada. The alarm will have a certification mark on it, such as CSA, UL, Intertek ETL etc.

If your carbon monoxide alarm sounds, you should do the following:

  1. Do not try to locate the source of carbon monoxide.
  2. Leave your home immediately and move to fresh air.
  3. Once outside, call 9-1-1, your fire department or emergency services.
  4. Return to your home only after the problem has been fixed by a professional.

For more information on carbon monoxide poisoning prevention, including symptoms, as well as information on appliance maintenance and inspection, click here.

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