You Can’t See It. You Can’t Smell It. But IT Can Kill You.

Carbon Monoxide Week

We talk about this every year…and in between when need be.

Carbon Monoxide.

And ensuring your CO alarms are working.

Carbon Monoxide Awareness week begins today (Thursday).

Barrie Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Weber says the biggest issue is people not replacing the units when they expire, “The detection unit wears out. It doesn’t address the carbon monoxide the same way it did when it was brand new…that’s what’s going to protect you and your family. You can’t see it, you can’t smell it, it’s going to kill you.”

CO alarms typically last 7 to 10 years. The expiry date should be on the unit, in most cases printed on the outside.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]In Ontario, more than 65 per cent of injuries and deaths from CO occur in the home.[/perfectpullquote]

With the onset of winter there is an increased risk of CO poisoning due to increased use of gas heaters, fireplaces, and other devices to beat the cold.

The Ontario Fire Code requires all homes in with fuel-burning appliances, a fireplace or an attached garage to have working CO alarms outside of each sleeping area. Fuel-burning appliances can include furnaces, hot water heaters, gas or wood fireplaces, portable fuel-burning heaters and generators, barbeques or stoves.

Pay Attention To The Beeps

And it’s not just the shrill sound of the alarm alerting you to the presence of carbon monoxide you need to be aware of. Those annoying beeps from time to time are also trying to get your attention about the need to replace batteries or the unit itself.

If you get the ear-piercing alarm, Deputy Chief Weber says it’s important you collect the family and pets, get out of the house and then call 911. Do not open windows in hopes of clearing the air, that makes it more difficult for fire crews to trace the source of the carbon monoxide.

Quick Facts

  • Over 50 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning in Canada, including 11 on average in Ontario.
  • The Ontario Building Code requires the installation of carbon monoxide alarms in homes and other residential buildings built after 2001.
  • 60% of Canadians do not have a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm installed in their house and 44% do not have their heating systems checked annually.
  • There is an increased risk of CO poisoning during the colder seasons when we spend more time indoors increasing our use of gas heaters, fireplaces, and other gadgets to beat the cold.
  • Without proper maintenance, appliances such as furnaces, clothes dryers, water heaters, fireplaces, wood stoves, barbecues, and gas ranges can produce CO from the incomplete burning of fuels such as natural gas, wood, propane, heating oil, kerosene, coal, or charcoal.
  • CO leaks are undetectable. It is a poisonous gas you cannot see, taste or smell and is often referred to as the “silent killer”. It causes flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, burning eyes, confusion, drowsiness, and even loss of consciousness. In very severe cases, CO poisoning can result in brain damage and death

Special Events

During Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week, Barrie Fire and Emergency Service is giving away free CO alarms to everyone who provides proof of having their furnace and fireplace professionally cleaned this year. Residents can visit Fire Station 1, 155 Dunlop Street West, or tag BFES on Facebook (@BarrieFireService) or Twitter (@Barrie_Fire) to show their proof and claim their alarm.

BFES is also hosting a CO Awareness Night at Lowe’s on Thursday, November 1 from 5 – 8 p.m. Firefighters will lead three 30-minute workshops covering everything residents need to know to keep their families safe from the silent killer. Workshops will start at 5:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Attendees will also be able to tour a fire truck.