Carbon Monoxide (CO) Safety

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas that you can’t see or smell. Exposure to CO can be dangerous as it blocks your body’s ability to absorb oxygen.

It is produced when carbon fuels such as natural gas, propane, gasoline, heating oils or wood are burned incompletely. Installing CO detectors is an essential step in warning and protecting occupants of homes and businesses.

Know the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide

If CO builds up in the bloodstream, symptoms may change or magnify.

Symptoms to Watch for Include:
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Chest pain
  • Weakness

For more details about the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide, visit Technical Safety BC

What to Do If You Suspect CO Exposure

  1.       Leave Immediately – Ensure that all people and pets leave the home immediately and go outside.
  2.       Call for help – Call PNG’s 24-hour gas emergency number 1-800-663-1173 or 911. Do not go back into the building until it is safe.
  3.       Seek medical attention – If anyone in the house feels ill, get immediate medical attention. Symptoms may include flu-like symptoms without the fever, impaired motor functions, chest pain, tiredness or dizziness, and nausea.

Preventing Problems

Regular maintenance of your gas appliances and maintaining good air supply and ventilation to all fuel-burning equipment are essential steps in preventing the risk of CO exposure. Installing a CO detector is important to warn occupants in case of exposure.

Signs to Look for to Prevent a Problem:
  • Yellow flames – Check regularly to ensure the flame on all gas appliances are blue. A yellow flame could be a sign of CO. Leave the premises and contact PNG to shut off the appliance and arrange for a licensed contractor to do an inspection.
  • Blocked vents or chimneys – Be sure to clean your vents/chimneys regularly. A blocked or restricted vent/chimney will increase the chances of CO or other fumes spilling into the home.
  • Furnaces – Remember to check and replace your furnace filter regularly. To be sure that your furnace exhaust system is working properly, it should also be inspected routinely by a licensed professional.
  • Vehicles – Remove vehicles and gas-powered equipment from the garage immediately after starting the engine.

Protect Your Family – Have a CO Detector

Here Are Some Things to Look For When Getting and Installing a CO Detector:
  • Canadian certified – When shopping for a CO detector, be sure that it is Canadian certified, approved by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). It should have an accepted certification label printed on the package, indicating that it meets Canadian safety standards and the replacement date should be clearly listed.
  • Installation – Generally, there should be a CO detector placed in the hallway outside the bedrooms and on each level of your home. This will help you hear the alarm if you are sleeping. Install your CO detector as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Batteries – If your CO detector is battery powered, ensure the batteries are changed twice a year.