Carbon Monoxide Safety Extends Beyond Your Home
North Bay Fire & Emergency Services, January 8, 2021 – While packing up to head to the ice shack or camp, consider if a carbon monoxide alarm and batteries should be added to your list. It’s easy to forget that the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning extend beyond your home. If you have a heating or cooking device at your ice hut or cabin that burns fuel such as wood, propane, natural gas, kerosene, oil or charcoal; it can emit deadly levels of CO if it is not designed for indoor use, malfunctions or is not properly ventilated.
Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous gas often referred to as the ‘silent killer’ because you can’t smell it, see it or taste it and if it goes undetected, high level exposure can cause death within minutes.
Tips to Protect Yourself:
- Use extreme caution bringing fuel burning devices into enclosed spaces. Barbeques, camp stoves and portable fuel generators must only be used outdoors. Ensure that portable fuel-burning heaters are built for indoor use, vented properly and operated according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Ventilate, ventilate, ventilate. Ventilation is critically important whenever burning carbon based fuels. Refer to the instruction manual and ensure that chimney flues and vents are not blocked by snow or debris.
- Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Early symptoms include headache, dizziness, nausea and fatigue. If you experience symptoms under these conditions, quickly move outside to fresh air. In instances where carbon monoxide is rapidly produced death can occur quickly.
- Install a carbon monoxide alarm. A CO alarm is the only way you will be alerted of this deadly gas.
- Test your CO alarm every visit. Cold weather can drain the batteries inside the CO alarm much faster. Don’t assume that it is working, test it each visit and pack a spare set of batteries. Replace CO alarms every 5-7 years as per instructions.
Carbon Monoxide Safety in Your Home
You are required by law to have a working CO alarm outside each sleeping area if your home is equipped with a fuel-burning appliance, fireplace or attached garage. For added protection, install a carbon monoxide alarm on every storey of the home according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Prevent Carbon Monoxide in your home:
- Ensure fuel-burning appliances, chimneys and vents are cleaned and inspected annually. Visit COSafety.ca to find a licensed gas contractor near you.
- Clear snow and ice away from outside vents.
- Never use the stove or oven to heat your home.
- Open the flu before using a fireplace for adequate ventilation.
- Never run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor inside a garage, even if the garage doors are open. Always remove a vehicle from the garage immediately after starting it.
Know the sound of your CO alarm and maintain them:
- Your CO alarm sounds different than your smoke alarm. Test both alarms monthly and make sure everyone in your home knows the difference between the two alarm sounds.
- Don’t be confused by the sound of your CO alarm’s low-battery warning. Follow your CO alarm manufacturer’s instructions so you know the difference between the low-battery warning, the “end-of-life” warning, and the alarm alerting you to the presence of CO in your home.
- Replace the batteries at least once a year and check the device for the expiration date. CO alarms like smoke alarms do not last forever. Typically CO alarms must be replaced every 7 years.
For more CO safety tips, visit the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management’s website and COsafety.ca.