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Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week

Archived Backgrounder

Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week

Ministry of the Solicitor General

Ontario's second annual Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week runs from November 1-7, 2015.

What is carbon monoxide (CO)?

  • 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. These include furnaces, gas or wood fireplaces, hot water heaters, stoves, barbeques, portable fuel-burning heaters and generators as well as vehicles.

 Where to install CO alarms:

  • CO alarms must be installed adjacent to each sleeping area of a home if it has a fuel-burning appliance, fireplace or an attached garage.
  • In a condominium or apartment building with a service room with a furnace, CO alarms must be installed in the furnace room itself. Alarms must also be installed adjacent to all sleeping areas in suites immediately above, below and beside the service room.
  • For condominium or apartment buildings with a garage, CO alarms must also be installed adjacent to each sleeping area in suites immediately above, below and beside the garage.

 Prevent CO in your home:

  • Ensure all fuel-burning appliances in your home are inspected annually. Visit COSafety.ca to find a registered contractor near you.
  • Check that all outside appliance vents are not blocked.
  • Never use a portable fuel-burning appliance indoors (i.e. barbeques, portable heaters and generators).

 Know the symptoms of CO exposure:

  • Exposure to CO can cause flu-like symptoms, such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, as well as confusion, drowsiness, loss of consciousness and even 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.

 Know the sound of your 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.
  • Don't be confused by the sound of your CO alarm's low-battery warning. Follow your CO alarm manufacturer's instructions so you know the difference between the low-battery warning, the "end-of-life" warning, and the alarm alerting you to the presence of CO in your home.

 Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Along with smoke alarms, CO alarms help keep our families safe.

CO alarms can range in price from approximately $26 to over $100, depending on whether they are hard-wired, battery operated or plug-in, and whether they have additional features (i.e. battery back-up, digital display, etc.). The average mid-range plug-in/battery back-up model costs between $35 and $40 per unit.

Bill 77 (Hawkins Gignac Act [Carbon Monoxide Safety], 2013)

Bill 77 the Hawkins Gignac Act [Carbon Monoxide Safety], 2013, amended the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997, to allow the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services to require the use of CO alarms in homes.  The Ontario Fire Code has also been amended to include requirements to lessen the risk created by the presence of unsafe levels of CO. Failure to comply with CO alarm requirements outlined in the Ontario Fire Code could result in a ticket of $360, or a fine of up to $50,000 for individuals and $100,000 for corporations.

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