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The easiest way to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning

It's vitally important to take steps toward preventing carbon monoxide (CO) buildups in your home

As the seasons begins to change, cooler weather approaches and more people will be spending time indoors. As a result, it is vitally important to take steps toward preventing carbon monoxide (CO) buildups in your home

“Most people are well aware of the dangers of inhaling smoke and the need for smoke alarms in residential and commercial spaces,” said Tracy Burgess, Service Manager at Carleton Refrigeration, Heating and Air Conditioning. “They might not know as much about the dangers of carbon monoxide and the equally important need for CO alarms.”

Often referred to as “the silent killer,” carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas formed by the incomplete combustion of carbon inside fuel-burning appliances.

Furnaces, fireplaces, gas stoves, gas cooking stoves, dryers, and even water heaters can generate enough CO to poison people who most likely don’t even know they’re breathing it in.

At low levels, CO can produce flu-like symptoms such as headaches, shortness of breath, weak muscles, exhaustion, and even loss of function in limbs. As levels increase, people can feel dizziness, poor vision, convulsions, coma and even death. Rarely a year goes by when an individual or family isn’t tragically killed by carbon monoxide poisoning.

In 2017, new regulations came into effect in Ontario that made carbon monoxide detectors mandatory in all Ontario homes. They are now required near all sleeping areas in residential homes, in service rooms (boiler rooms or garbage rooms) and in multi-residential units. Carbon monoxide alarms come in many different styles - they can be plugged in, hard-wired or battery operated - and usually range in price from $30 to $70, but Burgess says price is not the primary consideration when shopping for a good alarm.

“When buying carbon monoxide alarms in retail stores or ordering online, it’s important to look for products that are certified for use in Canada,” she said. “Proper certification marks mean the units meet Canadian safety standards for such devices.”

Burgess suggests that anyone without a CO alarm in their home should immediately go out and purchase one. She also suggests the following tips be followed to ensure maximum safety and protection from CO mishaps in the home:

  • Always install and maintain your CO alarm according to the manufacturer’s instructions
  • When installing, be sure to mark the product’s expiry date on the unit with a marker. Many styles of alarm have automatic audio warnings when the unit is nearing its expiry date
  • Replace the battery annually in any unit that requires them; you can also purchase a model with a 10-year sealed lithium battery included
  • Replace your CO unit every 7 to 10 years.
  • Ensure you have one unit on every floor.

For those uncertain about where to properly install your alarms, Carleton Refrigeration suggests booking a service call.

Visit Carleton Refrigeration Heating and Air Conditioning at 150 Industrial Ave, Carleton Place, or online at Call them at 613-257-8282 or 1-866-557-8282.

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