NORTH DUNDAS — With the winter heating season back in full swing, the North Dundas Fire Department reminds residents to install a carbon monoxide alarm adjacent to each sleeping area if your home has a fuel-burning appliance or attached garage.
For added protection, install a carbon monoxide alarm on every storey of the home according to manufacturer’s instructions.
In Ontario, over 65 percent of all injuries and deaths due to carbon monoxide occur in homes — a source of concern to local fire departments. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that thousands of people visit emergency rooms and are hospitalized because of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning every year. Exposure to the invisible, odourless gas can cause flu-like symptoms and snuff out your life.
If your CO alarm sounds, and you or other occupants suffer from symptoms of CO poisoning, get everyone out of the home immediately. Then call 9-1-1 or your local emergency services number from outside the building. If your CO alarm sounds and no one is suffering from symptoms of CO poisoning, check to see if the battery needs replacing, or the alarm has reached its “end-of-life” before calling 9-1-1.
Homeowners and landlords are responsible for ensuring their properties have working carbon monoxide (CO) alarms.
• It is recommended that carbon monoxide alarms be tested monthly or in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
• Replace batteries in carbon monoxide alarms once a year or whenever the low-battery warning sounds.
• Know the difference between a low-battery warning and an emergency alarm – consult the CO alarm manufacturer’s instructions.
Replace CO alarms:
• In accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
• Know what the “end-of-life” warning sounds like – consult the CO alarm manufacturer’s instructions.
• Landlords are responsible to ensure working carbon monoxide alarms are installed and maintained in their rental properties.
• The law requires landlords to test CO alarms in rental units annually and when the battery is replaced, changes are made to the electric circuit or a change in tenancy occurs. CO alarms must be tested by pressing the test button.
• The law requires landlords to provide CO alarm manufacturer’s maintenance instructions to tenants.
• The law requires tenants to notify the landlord if the CO alarm is inoperable.
• It is against the law for tenants to remove the batteries or tamper with the alarm in any way.
Ensure your appliances are functioning properly
The Department also urges local households to take preventative action by getting an annual inspection for all fuel-burning appliances in their homes: fuel-fired furnaces, water heaters, dryers, barbecues, stoves, fireplaces, portable generators are all potential sources of the deadly gas. Blocked chimneys and cars left running in a garage can also leave residents exposed to this “silent killer.”
More about carbon monoxide
CO forms most readily when there is insufficient oxygen to complete combustion and produce carbon dioxide. While CO is a risk for just about anyone, infants, the elderly, those with breathing problems or chronic heart disease, and people with anemia are most likely to get sick from CO.
CO cannot be identified without the presence of a carbon monoxide alarm. If a person believes he or she is smelling carbon monoxide, that person is probably mistaking the odor for other combustion byproducts that the human nose can sense.
CO is produced anytime something is burning. That is why it is essential that products designed to be used outdoors are used exclusively outside, and that indoor appliances are properly vented to the outdoors. CO can build up indoors and poison people and pets who breathe it in.
Some people may not recognize that CO is problematic in a home until multiple residents start complaining of similar symptoms. Common CO poisoning symptoms include nausea and vomiting, dizziness, chest pain, confusion, headache, and other flu-like symptoms, advises the consumer advocacy group Carbon Monoxide Kills. Those with repeated exposure to high levels of CO may eventually develop cerebral edema, a swelling of the brain. CO can compress brain cells and destroy them, leading to neurological issues and death. CO poisoning is actually the result of the head and heart not receiving sufficient oxygen.