More than 300 people die and hundreds more are hospitalized each year in Canada due to carbon monoxide (CO) exposure. The Ministry of Government Relations’ Public Safety Division and SaskPower are reminding you to have a working CO alarm in each major area of your home, just like smoke alarms.
CO is an invisible, odourless, colourless gas created when fuels burn incompletely. CO exposure is often confused with the flu, as both have similar symptoms like headaches, nausea, burning eyes and dizziness. However, continued CO exposure can lead to confusion, drowsiness, loss of consciousness, brain damage and death.
The number of CO incidents increase during winter as citizens rely more on natural gas appliances like their furnace, hot water heater, stove and dryer – appliances that can become a source of CO in the home. Building a fire in a fireplace or starting up a gas generator, portable heater, propane barbeque or vehicle in your garage can also create dangerously high levels of CO.
“A dedicated alarm is the only reliable warning that carbon monoxide is present,” Ministry of Government Relations’ Assistant Deputy Minister of Public Safety Duane McKay said. “Install both smoke alarms and CO alarms in your home. The early warning these alarms provide give you and your loved ones the time you need to escape dangerous situations.”
Ensuring that your natural gas appliances are properly installed, maintained, and inspected by a licensed gas contractor can also reduce your likelihood of CO exposure.
“Don’t put your family’s safety at risk,” SaskPower’s Director of Gas Inspections Asif Ali said. “If you don’t have a CO detector, you should buy one. If you already have one, you should check it to ensure it’s working. It’s also important to check your vents throughout the year, especially as the weather changes, as there can be heavy snowfall or ice buildup.”
As with smoke alarms, follow the manufacturer’s directions when installing your CO alarm and test it monthly. Additional tips to help keep your home and family safe from CO and what to do if your CO alarm sounds can be found on SaskPower’s website at https://www.saskpower.com/safety/gas-safety/dangers-of-carbon-monoxide