Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless and colorless gas. It is produced in small quantities by gasoline engines and other appliances that burn fuel with only partial or incomplete combustion. If CO accumulates due to appliances not being well-maintained, or if they are not working properly, it could cause serious health problems, even death. However, a natural gas appliance that is well calibrated is just as safe as a standard-compliance electrical appliance.
Symptoms of CO poisoning
The symptoms are headache, nausea, dizziness, vomiting.
What to do?
Leave the building immediately. If someone is sick or unable to move, carry her or him outside. In all cases of illness, contact emergency medical services by dialing 911. Before re-entering the home, air out all the rooms and determine the cause of the carbon monoxide presence.
How to prevent poisoning?
- Have your natural gas appliances regularly and carefully maintained. Maintenance must be performed by a qualified technician with practical knowledge of the operation, installation and disposal of combustion appliances.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector that meets CSA 6.19 or UL 2034 standards, available in large department stores. Just like a smoke detector, it will alert you if the amount of carbon monoxide exceeds a predetermined threshold. Using a carbon monoxide detector is mandatory in certain cases, such as in special-purpose buildings, business establishments of more than two stories and residential buildings of more than two stories or more than eight units. However, regardless of your building, your municipality may have stricter regulations than the Building Act or that apply to buildings not covered by the Act. In all cases, to ensure your safety, the Régie du bâtiment, the CNESST and fire services always recommend having a detector installed.
- Make sure that your exhaust vents and chimneys are working properly, and that the air intake and exhaust vents are cleared of snow in the winter.