How to Protect Against Carbon Monoxide in Your Home

06 Mar 2023
How to Protect Against Carbon Monoxide in Your Home

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odorless, and tasteless gas that can be fatal in high concentrations. It is produced by the incomplete burning of combustion of fossil fuels like coal, natural gas, propane, and oil. Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause sickness and even death. That’s why it is essential to understand the risks of carbon monoxide and know how to stay safe.

Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors in Your Home

One of the most important things you can do to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning is to install carbon monoxide detectors in your home to provide a warning as soon as possible when the level of carbon monoxide in your home reaches dangerous levels. Most carbon monoxide detectors use batteries, although some models can be hardwired into your home’s electrical system. Hardwired systems usually include a battery backup as well, to keep your unit functioning even if you lose power. 

Ensure that your detectors are functioning correctly by testing them regularly and replacing batteries as needed. Check the batteries in your detector once every six months or as recommended by the manufacturer. Most units also offer low-battery detection, sounding a chirp when the battery needs to be replaced. 

Keep Your Appliances Working with Regular Maintenance 

Another crucial step in carbon monoxide safety is to ensure that all fuel-burning appliances including furnaces, stoves, and water heaters, are installed and maintained properly. 

Carbon monoxide is a greater risk in enclosed spaces. Many carbon monoxide injuries occur during the winter months when homes are closed up to keep the cold outside. Some of the most common sources of carbon monoxide come from items we use during the winter months as well.

Chimney and furnace:
 Both chimneys and furnaces can cause carbon monoxide buildup if not working optimally. Have both systems checked and cleaned regularly. 

Generators: Power generators, like other engines, emit CO. If you need to use a generator, always place the generator outside your home in an open area.

Kerosene heaters: Kerosene heaters used to take the chill out of winter can also emit carbon monoxide. Think twice before using a kerosene heater and always allow ventilation so CO can escape the area.

Running cars: Car engines produce carbon monoxide. Never leave your car or motorcycle running in a closed garage.

Grills: Both propane and charcoal grills can pose a carbon monoxide risk. Grill in a well-ventilated area away from your home.

Finally, it’s important to know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. These include headaches, dizziness, nausea, and confusion. If you or someone else in your home is experiencing these symptoms and suspect carbon monoxide exposure, evacuate the area immediately and seek medical attention. By taking the appropriate precautions, you can reduce the risk of exposure and keep yourself safe. 

Matt Schottroff is the Marketing Coordinator for The Standard Insurance Brokers Ltd. and the host of the Passionate People video series. He lives and works in Kenora, Ontario.

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