Carbon Monoxide – Common Questions and Answers
February 13, 2015
WHAT IS CARBON MONOXIDE?
Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odourless, colourless gas created when fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane do not completely dissipate when burning.
WHY IS CARBON MONOXIDE DANGEROUS?
CO enters the body through breathing. CO poisoning is often confused with flu symptoms. Symptoms include: Headache, Fatigue, Shortness of breath, Nausea, and Dizziness. High level CO poisoning results in progressively more severe symptoms including: Mental confusion, Vomiting, Loss of muscular coordination, Loss of consciousness, and Death.
Studies have shown that chronic exposure to even low levels of carbon monoxide can have serious health consequences. Additionally young children and the elderly may be more susceptible to CO poisoning at much lower levels then healthy adults.
ARE CARBON MONOXIDE ALARMS REQUIRED BY LAW IN ONTARIO?
Buildings that contain no more than six suites of residential occupancy are required to comply with the installation and replacement requirements within 6 months of the in-force date (April 15, 2015, at the latest).
Buildings that contain more than six suites of residential occupancy are required to comply with the installation and replacement requirements within 12 months of the in-force date (October 15, 2015, at the latest).
WHERE TO INSTALL A CARBON MONOXIDE ALARM?
The suggested location for installation is as near as possible to the sleeping areas of the home. The units should not be blocked by furniture or window coverings and will work well in either a high or low location. You should keep common household chemicals and cleaners away from your CO alarms. Low exposure over an extended period of time could damage the sensing device and cause it to malfunction.
Do not install a carbon monoxide alarm in a place where the temperature is expected to fall below 4.4 degrees Celsius, such as an unheated garage or storage shed. They should not be placed within five feet of any open flame appliance such as cook tops, fireplaces or furnaces. They should also be kept clear of any direct exhaust from gas engines, vents, flues or chimneys as these will damage the alarm.
Your carbon monoxide alarm should be tested regularly to make sure it is operating properly. Keep the unit clean and free of dust dirt and other debris which could affect the sensor’s proper functioning. The owner’s manual should tell you how to test your alarm. Remember to read the owner’s manual when you buy a new carbon monoxide alarm.
For more questions and answers visit the Province of Ontario website now.
This post was originally published by Ottawa Fire Services. Visit the blog here.
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