Tips on preventing carbon monoxide poisoning as cold sets in, furnaces fire up

Tips on preventing carbon monoxide poisoning as cold sets in, furnaces fire up
By Laura Meader
CBC News
Link to article: Tips on preventing carbon monoxide poisoning as cold sets in, furnaces fire up

New regulations are coming to Saskatchewan to protect families from carbon monoxide poisoning, says SaskPower's chief gas inspector.

Changes to legislation will make carbon monoxide detectors mandatory in all new home construction in the province, SaskPower's Syed Asif Ali told CBC News.

He said the province's Building Standards and Licensing branch will issue an advisory on the changes in January.

Whether legally required or not, though, Ali said having a detector is crucial because the gas is usually undetectable.

"It's colourless, odourless, you don't even come to know that it is there."

Ali said it is worth investing in a more expensive detector that monitors concentration of the gas accurately.

He said if less than one per cent of the air around you is contaminated with carbon monoxide, you can begin to face the negative effects of the gas. After 45 minutes, you may experience a headache and nausea and within an hour you could become unconscious. After two hours in that environment, the CO could prove fatal.

When you get your detector installed, it should be close to your bedroom so it can wake you up if needed.

If you think your home has unhealthy CO levels, Ali said you should immediately leave and shut the door.

If you call the fire department, firefighters will be able to determine if there has been a leak.

What to watch for in your home

Ali suggests homeowners get their heating system inspected and serviced every year.

"The No. 1 cause of carbon monoxide poisoning is poor maintenance of your heating system," he said.

In the winter, you should refrain from starting your vehicle inside an attached garage and instead warm it up outdoors.

"Even with the door open, the air is going to be lethal," Ali said.

If the power goes out, a power generator should not be used inside a home or garage. Ali recommends they be kept about eight metres (25 feet) away.

After a storm, check your vents for the dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace to make sure they are not blocked with snow.

Lastly, oil and gas appliances must be ventilated properly in order to prevent CO buildup.

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