Carbon monoxide is an odourless, colourless gas commonly known as the “silent killer” due to the harmful effects on your health. Many people associate the gas with the winter season when furnaces and fireplaces are used more often; however, it should be a year round concern. We help you understand the causes and what you can do to protect against and prevent leaks in your home.
Leaks and Causes
Breathing carbon monoxide reduces your body’s ability to carry oxygen in the blood, causing headaches, fatigue, flu-like symptoms and can even result in death. Leaks commonly occur when gas, oil or wood dependent household appliances have improper ventilation systems.
According to the Technical Standards Safety Association (TSSA), carbon monoxide can be produced as a bi-product from using gas heaters, gas fireplaces, gas stoves, gas barbecues, and even running your car in an open garage.
Prevent and Protect
Inspection is key and should start with you. Take a look around your home and assess any appliances relying on gas. How old are these items and how do they ventilate? Hire a certified professional to inspect your furnace, fireplace, and any other equipment operating on gas.
Install a CSA approved carbon monoxide alarm to notify you in case of rising carbon monoxide levels. Ensure you have working carbon monoxide detectors in or near the sleeping areas of your home. Be sure to educate your family on the symptoms and have an escape plan in place to immediately seek fresh air should a leak occur. According to TSSA, children are more likely to show carbon monoxide symptoms faster than adults, so pay close attention.
Recently, the province of Ontario announced it’s mandatory for all homes to install carbon monoxide detectors. Regardless of where you live, regular inspections and installing a carbon monoxide alarm is critical.
How an inspection can save a life
When Lori Johnstone, BrokerLink broker from Hamilton, called her customer to check if she needed to update her home insurance policy, Lori didn’t expect the call would end up saving her customer’s life.
“I called a customer, a single woman, who owned her own home,” says Johnstone. “When we were reviewing her policy updates, the customer mentioned that her furnace was getting older but still seemed to be functioning fine.”
As the furnace was more than 25 years old, Lori checked with the insurance company to see if the customer needed a heat inspection of the furnace. They did. Lori called her customer to let her know the insurance company’s requirement for an inspection of older gas furnaces. The customer was not happy to hear she would have to pay for the inspection, especially since the furnace seemed to be working well. She reluctantly agreed to have it inspected.
“A few weeks later, my customer called me and thanked me for saving her life,” says Johnstone. “She was not aware her furnace was leaking deadly carbon monoxide. When it was checked, it was condemned on the spot.”
For more safety tips about carbon monoxide, visit CO Safety or End the Silence.