Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas produced by the combustion of fuels such as natural gas, oil, and propane in devices such as furnaces, water heaters, and stoves. These items are normally designed to vent the CO to the outside, but harmful interior levels of CO can result from incomplete combustion of fuel, improper installation, or blockages, leaks or cracks in the venting systems.
During the recent ice storms there are have numerous Carbon Monoxide poisoning related hospital visits and two deaths reported in Newcastle Ontario. BBQ’s whether they are natural gas or charcoal and generators can never be used in doors. Candles, oil lamps gas stoves and fireplaces all produce carbon monoxide. Carbon Monoxide detectors have now been passed into legislation and are required in all homes but most of these are plug in units so they will not function in a power outage without a battery backup that only a few models offer.
Homeowners can take action against potential carbon monoxide poisoning by taking the following steps:
Have all fuel-burning appliances professionally inspected yearly, preferably before the start of the cold-weather season when heaters and furnaces are first used
These appliances include gas stoves and ovens, furnaces and heaters, water heaters, generators, and clothes dryers
All such devices should be properly installed and vented to the outside whenever possible
If repairs are necessary, be sure they are performed by a qualified technician
Always use the proper fuel specified for the device
Have flues and chimneys for fuel-burning fireplaces or wood stoves inspected regularly for cracks, leaks, and blockages that may allow a buildup of CO to occur
Never use gas stoves or ovens to heat the home, even temporarily
Do not start or idle a vehicle in a garage, even with the outer garage door open.
For additional protection, purchase a CO detector (either battery operated or plug-in) and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper location and installation
Learn what to do should the CO alarm activate: If anyone in the home experiences symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, or confusion, everyone should leave immediately and seek medical attention. If no symptoms are felt, open doors and windows immediately and shut off all fuel-burning devices that may be potential sources of CO.