November 1-7th is Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week

November 1-7th is Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week

The Government of Alberta’s Office of the Fire Commissioner supports Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week 2017 (November 1-7th). Carbon monoxide is colourless, odourless and deadly. You can beat this silent killer by taking a few simple steps to keep your family step. Your first step is to install a carbon monoxide alarm.

What is carbon monoxide?

  • Carbon monoxide (CO) is known as the silent killer because it is an invisible, tasteless and odourless gas that can be deadly.
  • CO is produced when fuels such as propane, gasoline, natural gas, heating oil or wood do not burn completely in fuel-burning appliances and devices such as furnaces, fireplaces, hot water heaters, stoves, barbeques, portable heaters and generators or vehicles.

What to do if the CO alarm sounds

  • Exposure to CO can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea and dizziness, as well as confusion, drowsiness, loss of consciousness and death.
  • If your CO alarm sounds and you or other occupants suffer from symptoms of CO poisoning, get everyone out of the home immediately. Then call 9-1-1 or your local emergency services number from outside the building.
  • If your CO alarm sounds and no one is suffering from symptoms of CO poisoning, check to see if the battery needs replacing, or the alarm has reached its “end-of-life” before calling 9-1-1.

How to prevent the build-up of CO in your home

  • Ensure fuel-burning appliances, chimneys and vents are cleaned and inspected by professionals every year before cold weather sets in.
  • Ensure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, fireplace and other fuel-burning appliances are always be clear of snow and other debris.
  • Gas and charcoal barbeques must be used outside, away from all doors, windows, vents, and other building openings. Never use barbeques inside garages, even if the garage doors are open.
  • Portable fuel-burning generators must be used outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from windows, doors, vents and other building openings.
  • Ensure all portable fuel-burning heaters are vented properly, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Never use the stove or oven to heat your home.
  • Open the flu for adequate ventilation before using a fireplace .
  • Never run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor inside a garage, even if the garage doors are open. Always remove a vehicle from the garage immediately after starting it.

Testing and replacing CO alarms

  • Test CO alarms every month by pressing the test button.
  • Replace batteries every year. Replace CO alarms according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Know the sound of the CO alarm

  • Your CO alarm sounds different than your smoke alarm. Test both alarms monthly and make sure everyone in your home knows the difference between the two alarm sounds.
  • Know the difference between the CO alarm’s low-battery warning, end-of-life warning and an emergency alarm – consult the CO alarm manufacturer’s instructions.

More information


Source: Office of the Fire Commissioner, Alberta