Thursday, November 6, 2014

Beware of the Silent Killer

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is often called the “Silent Killer” because it is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas which can be lethal if it is above a certain concentration. Many Canadians are hospitalized every year due to Carbon Monoxide poisoning and in some cases it’s takes lives. Most Canadians who lost their lives to CO poisoning, did so in their sleep.

Carbon Monoxide is produced by combustion and is present in the exhaust of internal combustion engines, for example, vehicles, as well as from portable or back-up generators. CO is also a by-product of incomplete combustion of fuels like natural gas, wood, coal, propane, and other bio-fuels.

Levels of Carbon Monoxide indoors can quickly rise to toxic levels, enough to become lethal. Some of the most common symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches, nausea, breathlessness, dizziness, loss of consciousness, and confusion. If CO levels are high, symptoms can occur within 20 minutes.

In the province of Ontario, a new regulation has come into effect on October 15, 2014 making it mandatory to install CO alarms for homes and buildings with no more than units of residential occupancy. And buildings with more than six units of residential occupancy are mandated to comply by October 15, 2015. You can learn more about the new regulations and compliance schedule at the Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services.

Carbon Monoxide alarms are designed to monitor and detect airborne concentration levels of CO and when the concentration reaches harmful levels, they sound an alarm. Essentially, CO alarm help save lives by making the silent killer, audible. There are different types of CO alarms like battery-operated, plug-ins, and hard-wired. The cost depends on the type of the CO alarms and can range between $25 to $100. Combo alarms are also available that include both, CO and smoke detection. Make sure that CO/Smoke alarms are CSA (Canadian Standards Association) approved.

CO alarms should be installed near sleeping areas. Unlike, smoke alarms that should be installed on the ceiling, CO alarms can be installed at any level as Carbon Monoxide mixes with the air. However, it’s important to note that if you buy a combo alarm, it should be installed near or on the ceiling. CO and smoke alarms sound different, so make sure to test the unit so you are familiar with the different sounds and ensure it is working.

If your CO alarm goes off, everyone in the home should immediately move outdoors and call 911. Do not open windows to let air in because when emergency services arrive at your home, they will not be able to effectively investigate the CO emergency.

You can watch this informational video below to learn more about the dangers of Carbon Monoxide:

Be CO aware, spread the word, and save lives!

Image Credits: Images on this web page created by the author, unless otherwise mentioned or linked to.