Updated for 2017

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an entirely odorless, colorless and tasteless gas. In small quantities, CO can be harmful to your health; in larger amounts, it can be lethal.

Carbon Monoxide: The Invisible Killer

co poisoning
Some people are lucky enough to escape death, but it takes time to recover from CO poisoning. Photo credit: CBC News.

We can’t detect carbon monoxide, which makes it a real danger in any home with an oil or gas-based heating system. CO is created when fossil fuels burn, and normally it is safely vented outside through an exhaust system. But a crack in the heat exchanger or an issue with the exhaust system seal could have deadly results.

Just two months ago, an elderly couple was found in their Toronto home, dead. The suspected killer? Carbon monoxide, which wasn’t detected until the fire department got there.

This was a tragic and entirely avoidable accident. And it’s not the only one. In 2013 a man and his mother were killed when CO fumes from a gas generator leaked into their home. Only 3 months later, 3 members of a Brampton family died after trying to heat their home with a propane heater.

Approximately 50 people die in Canada a year from carbon monoxide. These deaths are all completely avoidable if you recognize the symptoms and properly protect yourself.

Make Sure Your Whole Family Knows the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

One of the biggest problems is that people aren’t aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. You may not be able to see it or smell it, but you’ll definitely feel it when exposed to it.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness and loss of coordination
  • Fatigue
  • Burning eyes
  • Confusion

Prolonged exposure will lead to a worsening of these symptoms, followed by unconsciousness, then death.

If anyone in your family experiences these symptoms, you should leave the home immediately. Once you are all a safe distance away, call emergency services for help.

Take These Precautions Against Carbon Monoxide

There are a few things you can do protect yourself and your family from the deadly gas.

1. Install a Carbon Monoxide Alarm, and Check it Annually

The most important step you need to take is install a new carbon monoxide alarm if you haven’t replaced it recently. Homes are required by law in Ontario to have a carbon monoxide alarm in place.

They are inexpensive to purchase ($50 or less) and should be placed on every floor, and outside every sleeping area. Most of these deaths occur at night, so you need to be able to hear the alarm easily from your bedroom.

You should test the alarm annually – most models have a test button that you can use. The batteries in carbon monoxide alarms should be checked twice a year. If you have a lithium battery, they last about 10 years. If you don’t have a lithium-based alarm, the batteries will need to be changed.

An easy way to remember is to check them when you change your clocks for Daylight Savings, although you can create your own routine.

Please note: A carbon monoxide leak could be part of another problem, like fire. Please make sure you have fire extinguishers throughout the house, and the smoke alarms batteries are changed as frequently as the carbon monoxide alarm batteries.

2. Get Furnace and Water Heater Maintenance Seasonally

Your gas furnace or water heater will be the most likely culprits of a carbon monoxide leak, simply because they are the most-used, biggest gas appliances in your house. The more you use your furnace or water heater, the more they need to be serviced to keep operating safely and efficiently.

If your furnace and water heater don’t receive maintenance every fall, the risk of breakdowns and carbon monoxide leaks go way up.

Having a licensed technician thoroughly service and sign off on your furnace and water heater for the year gives you peace of mind.

We’re Part of Your First Defense Against Carbon Monoxide

Without the proper defense, your home is prone to carbon monoxide leaks, which puts you at risk. We’re part of your first defense against that avoidable tragedy. Get a furnace tuneup quote from us, and we’ll make sure your home is safe from this deadly threat.

Call us at 905-761-9485 or Request A Free Quote