Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips

 In Home Care Tips


Do you ever wonder if there is a silent killer in your home?


Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odourless, tasteless, and invisible gas that is a by-product of incomplete fuel combustion. Exposure to carbon monoxide could be deadly. It is commonly detected in poorly maintained or improperly installed natural gas furnaces and fireplaces, but it can also be produced when burning natural gas, propane, gasoline or wood. During the fall and winter when furnaces and fireplaces are running, the risk of CO poisoning increases.


“Given the average household has four to six fuel burning appliances, most commonly the furnace, water heater, fireplace and gas stove, CO safety is an important topic for everyone,” said Josh Orzech, the director of home services for Direct Energy Alberta. “Every year, thousands of CO incidents take place here, but there are simple steps that can help prevent it from happening to you or your family.”


Orzech offers the following preventative measures to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning:


• The best way to keep your family safe is to ensure all fuel-burning devices are properly installed and serviced. It’s imperative to have a qualified technician inspect and service your furnace annually. For example, Direct Energy maintenance technicians are trained to measure carbon monoxide levels and to ensure the safe operation of fuel -burning appliances.


• As a second line of defense, install a CSA-approved carbon monoxide alarm on each level of your home or cottage. A common mistake that homeowners make is placing alarms too close to the furnace. Instead install a unit in the basement hallway, just outside the furnace room. CO travels upstairs through the ductwork and vents in your home so it’s very important to also install a CO alarm on the floors of the home where there are the most vents and, in close proximity to the sleeping areas. Don’t install CO alarms near windows or vents, bathrooms or too close to heating or fuel-burning appliances or smoke alarms (unless it’s a combination alarm).


• Make sure to check and test your existing alarms each season by pushing the test button on the unit. Put a reminder in your calendar every three months, so you don’t forget.


• Check manufacturer’s instructions to find out when your unit should be replaced. It’s usually five to 10 years for CO alarms.


• Replace batteries once a year, including back-up batteries for plug-in alarms.


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