Carbon monoxide is a silent killer, and it is something that every home and property owner should monitor. Unfortunately, many people simply do not know that they are at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning, even though approximately 88% of Canadian homes possess a carbon monoxide threat.
Because of the ever-present danger of carbon monoxide poisoning, it is crucial that every residential and commercial property be outfitted with a functional carbon monoxide detector. Much like a smoke alarm, this monitor will buzz or beep if it detects carbon monoxide in the air, giving you ample warning of a carbon monoxide leak. This warning allows you to address the leak before it can cause significant damage to your health.
Also with a monitored Carbon Monoxide detector, your monitoring station will be able to dispatch the fire dept to your home or business for help. If you are not home you will also be notified by the monitoring centre when there is a carbon monoxide emergency. In the case you have a smart security system you will also be notified through your security app on your smart phone.
Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when a carbon-based fuel is incompletely burned, leaving behind carbon monoxide. This colourless, odourless, and tasteless gas is virtually undetectable by our human senses, making it difficult to monitor without a carbon monoxide detector.
Once carbon monoxide is inhaled, it travels to the bloodstream and replaces oxygen in the blood, preventing oxygen from reaching your brain and vital organs. With prolonged exposure, this can result in serious physical symptoms, disablement, and even death.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause a wide variety of symptoms in affected individuals; however, many of these symptoms are similar to that of the flu and the common cold, which is why so many affected people ignore the symptoms until it is too late.
Some of the symptoms include drowsiness, headache, confusion, fainting, burning eyes, and compromised heart and respiratory function. Beyond these physical symptoms, it is likely that affected patients will also notice an improvement in their symptoms when they are away from the location of the leak.
It is also likely that a carbon monoxide leak will affect multiple individuals in the space, which is something to keep in mind. Never assume that a flu bug has taken over your household — be sure it is not carbon monoxide poisoning by installing a monitor in high-risk areas of your home.
In Canada, carbon monoxide monitoring is required by law in the sleeping areas of many residential properties. To ensure optimal function, test your CO alarms at the same time you test your smoke detectors. You may opt for battery-powered or hard-wired detectors, as long as they are located near high-risk areas of your home.
So, why should you care about carbon monoxide poisoning? Here are a few reasons:
1. On average, more than 50 Canadians die per year due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
The scary reality is that carbon monoxide poisoning can impact virtually anyone. With more than 50 deaths per year as a result of CO poisoning in Canada, it is a significant issue that can be addressed with vigilant monitoring and regular CO testing.
2. Hundreds of Canadians suffer short-term or permanent injuries from carbon monoxide poisoning each year.
Beyond the number of fatalities suffered each year, carbon monoxide poisoning also causes hundreds of other injuries ranging in severity. Unfortunately, because CO poisoning has such a dramatic impact on the body’s vital organs, many afflicted individuals suffer from brain, heart, and lung damage that is simply irreversible.
3. You are likely at risk for CO poisoning in your home.
Carbon monoxide can be released into the air from a wide range of sources in the average residential home. Wood-burning and gas stoves are a significant culprit, as are gas appliances, gasoline engines, and space heaters. In fact, most people simply don’t realize how many household appliances can poison them and their families.
4. Carbon Monoxide poisoning spikes in the winter.
With the winter season upon us, homeowners must be aware of their appliances that can cause CO leaks. Because of the influx of space heaters, stovetop cooking, and wood-burning fires for heat during the winter, CO poisoning numbers tend to spike in the winter months. Constant vigilance is required to make sure your family is safe and protected from the possibility of CO poisoning.
If the carbon monoxide alarm in your home, office, or garage goes off, it is important to leave the premises immediately. Gather your children, pets, coworkers, and any other occupants before leaving, but do so as fast as possible.
Do not try to find the source of the leak yourself. Too many people attempt to find the leak and succumb to the symptoms of CO poisoning before they can alert a professional, resulting in significant physical detriment.
Once you are safely away from the affected area and in a space with fresh, clean air, call 911 or a CO professional. These trained individuals will be able to find the leak and address it with ease, so the safety of your family should be your top priority.