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How To Minimize The Risk Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

What is carbon monoxide?

Also known as CO, carbon monoxide is an odourless, tasteless and colourless gas that is made when substances such as oil, coal, wood, gasoline, propane and natural gas are burned. It is also found in second-hand smoke from cigarettes. CO is known as the “silent killer” because of our inabilities to detect it without the help of carbon monoxide detectors. Its nickname is apt. CO is known to cause illness and death.

What puts us at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning?

Many of our homes contain appliances that run on fuel. They include furnaces, wood stoves, water heaters and boilers. Especially during the winter months, when our homes require heating from within, these appliances are put to greater use. As a result, the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning increases.

There are also a number of items that we tend to keep in our garages that can also be sources of carbon monoxide. When kept in such an unventilated area as a garage, generators, charcoal grills and vehicle exhausts can create concentrated amounts of CO that may seep into our homes. Chimneys are also known for housing carbon monoxide.

On NewsCanada.com, a tragic story about retired Ontario firefighter, John Gignac’s family highlights all too well the dangers of having a blocked chimney vent. In late 2008, Gignac lost his niece, her husband and their two children due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Their chimney vent was blocked and the family didn’t have a carbon monoxide alarm. A national charitable foundation was set up by Gignac in the family’s memory.

He has made it his mission to protect other families from suffering the same fate. Gignac highlights the fact that you don’t need a chimney or a fireplace to be at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. As mentioned, there are a number of gas-burning appliances that are known culprits for emitting the deadly and undetectable gas into our homes.

“People need to take this threat seriously and realize that it comes from sources beyond just furnaces and fireplaces,” Gignac is quoted as saying, “Year-round we use gas stoves and water heaters and park vehicles in garages and attached carports. Never let down your guard…People think they don’t need a carbon monoxide alarm because they have electric heat and no fireplace. But when I ask them if they have a gas stove or water heater, or attached garage or carport, they realize their families have been at risk for years.”

How do you know if your home has put you at risk for CO poisoning?

It’s important to look out for the symptoms. When we breathe in carbon monoxide, it reduces our bodies’ abilities to carry oxygen in the blood. Shortness of breath, therefore, is an obvious symptom to watch for. At low levels, the symptoms of CO poisoning also include fatigue, headaches and muscle weakness. At higher levels, symptoms include dizziness, chest pain and problems with vision and concentrating.

What can be done to minimize the risk of CO poisoning?

Getting a carbon monoxide detector is highly recommended. Smoke alarms only alert you to the presence of smoke, not CO. At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we know how important it is to take measures to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. We offer Air Quality Services that detect any indoor air quality problems including CO.

For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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