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Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarm Safety

To prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, you should have furnaces and other fuel-burning appliances in your home inspected regularly by authorized service personnel.

What is carbon monoxide poisoning?

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, tasteless and toxic gas often referred to as the 'silent killer'. When inhaled, it inhibits your blood's capacity to transport oxygen throughout your body. Carbon monoxide can poison you quickly if highly concentrated or slowly over long periods of time.

How is carbon monoxide generated?

Carbon monoxide is a by-product of incomplete fuel combustion such as natural gas, propane, heating oil, kerosene, coal, charcoal, gasoline or wood. Incomplete combustion can occur in any device that depends on burning for energy or heat, such as furnaces, room heaters, fireplaces, hot water heaters, stoves or grills and any gas powered vehicle or engine. The following can create unsafe levels of carbon monoxide (CO):
  • Automobiles left running in attached garages
  • Gas barbecues operated inside your home
  • Grills or kerosene heaters that are not properly vented
  • Chimneys or vents that are dirty or plugged
When properly installed, maintained and vented, any CO produced by these devices will not stay inside the home.


What are some symptoms?

Exposure to CO can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, burning eyes, confusion, drowsiness and even loss of consciousness. In severe cases, CO poisoning causes brain damage and death. The elderly, children and people with heart or respiratory conditions may be particularly sensitive to CO.

Where should I place a carbon monoxide detector in my home?

  • CO detector should be located as near as possible to your bedrooms, where it can wake you if you are asleep. Where sleeping areas are located in separate parts of the home, a detector should be provided for each area.
  • Unlike smoke, which rises to the ceiling, CO mixes with air. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for CO detector placement. 
  • To work properly, a detector should not be blocked by furniture, draperies or other obstructions to normal air flow.
  • Please refer to the manufacturer's instructions for additional information regarding proper use and maintenance.

What are some additional safety tips?

Your knowledge and actions can prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and save lives. CO detectors are a good second line of defence, but regular inspections, maintenance and safe use of fuel-burning equipment is equally effective.