Carbon Monoxide Safety
Central York Fire Services (CYFS) has been responding to calls from residents whose carbon monoxide alarms have been activated in the home. Investigation has revealed that several of these calls were due to snow blocking the exhaust vents. CYFS reminds residents to inspect the exhaust vents for your gas dryer, furnace wood burning or gas stove, fireplace and heat recovery ventilator to ensure they are not obstructed by snow build-up during and after a snowfall.
Carbon Monoxide safety tips:
Furnaces, water heaters, clothes dryers, space heaters, ranges, ovens, fireplaces, wood stoves, charcoal grills and automobiles all produce potentially lethal carbon monoxide.
The Silent Killer
Carbon monoxide is called the "Silent Killer" because you can't see, smell or taste it. And it's lethal!
What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas that forms whenever you burn fuel like propane, natural gas, gasoline, oil, coal and wood.
It is produced as a result of the incomplete combustion of a fuel.
Because it is colourless, odourless and tasteless, it is hard to detect without a carbon monoxide alarm.
Carbon monoxide can cause health problems before people even notice it is present.
While the public should always exercise caution regarding CO, the possibility of its presence in a home can increase during the cold winter months.
Houses in Canada are typically heated by furnaces, water heaters/boilers, wood stoves and other appliances that most often run on fuels, such as wood, oil, propane or natural gas.
Generally, any appliance or device that burns a fuel can potentially produce CO.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning:
Red blood cells pick up CO quicker than they pick up oxygen.
If there is a lot of CO in the air, the body may replace oxygen in blood with CO.
This blocks oxygen from getting into the body, which can damage tissues and result in death.
What to do if your Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarm sounds:
Leave your home immediately and move to fresh air. Do not try to locate the source of CO.
Once you are outside the home, call your emergency services, fire department or 911.
Do not return to your home until the source of CO has been identified by a professional and the problem has been corrected.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning:
The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.
High levels of CO inhalation can cause loss of consciousness and death. Unless suspected, CO poisoning can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms mimic other illnesses.
People who are sleeping or intoxicated can die from CO poisoning before ever experiencing symptoms.
How to prevent the build-up of carbon monoxide:
Have fuel-burning heating equipment exhaust vent pipes and chimney flues inspected every year by a qualified service technician.
During and after a snow storm, inspect the exhaust vents for the dryer, furnace, wood burning or gas stove, fireplace and heat recovery ventilator to ensure they are not obstructed by snow build-up.
When using a wood burning fireplace, open both the flue and fresh air intake for adequate ventilation.
Do not let cars or other vehicles idle in the garage, especially when the garage door is closed.
Never leave the door open between the garage and your home.
Never use portable fuel-burning camping equipment inside a home, garage, vehicle, or tent unless it is specifically designed for use in an enclosed area.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions for safe use in enclosed areas.
Never run gas-powered equipment such as snow blowers or lawn mowers in the garage.
Never burn charcoal inside a home, garage, vehicle, or tent.
Fuel-burning appliances that are designed for outdoor use such as barbecues and grills should never be used indoors.
When purchasing fuel burning equipment, buy only equipment carrying the seal of a national testing agency, such as Underwriters' Laboratories Canada (ULC) or Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
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