Carbon Monoxide (CO)

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

carbon monoxide

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, toxic gas that enters the body through the lungs during the normal breathing process.  It replaces oxygen in the blood and prevents the flow of oxygen to the heart, brain and other vital organs.

Hundreds of Canadians are hospitalized every year from CO poisoning, many of whom are permanently disabled.  Everyone is at risk, as approximately 88% of all homes have something that poses a CO threat. More than 50 people die each year from CO poisoning in Canada – most of them while sleeping, including 11 on average in Ontario.

Protect yourself and your family from the “silent killer”. As per the the Hawkins-Gignac Act, the Ontario Fire Code has officially (October 2014) been amended to protect every Ontarian from CO. The updates to the fire code put a number of key measures into effect, including making CO alarms a requirement for every household in Ontario with a CO risk. 

Causes of CO Leaks

CO is produced when carbon-based fuels are incompletely burned such as: wood, propane, natural gas, heating oil, coal, kerosene, charcoal, and gasoline.

Leaks can be caused by wood burning/gas stoves, gas refrigerators, gasoline engines, kerosene heaters and others.

Signs of CO Leak

  • Headache, nausea, burning eyes, fainting, confusion, drowsiness
  • Often mistaken for common ailments like the flu
  • Symptoms improve when away from the home for a period of time
  • Symptoms experienced by more than one member of the household
  • Air feels stale/stuffy
  • Excessive moisture on windows or walls
  • Sharp penetrating odour or smell of gas when furnace or other fuel burning appliance turns on
  • Burning and pilot light flames are yellow/orange, not blue
  • Pilot light on the furnace or water heater goes out
  • Chalky white powder or soot build up occurs around exhaust vent or chimney

Continued exposure to higher levels may result in unconscious, brain damage and death. The elderly, children and people with heart or respiratory conditions may be particularly sensitive to carbon monoxide.

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