The silent killer: Protecting yourself from carbon monoxide
It’s a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas that can claim someone’s life if not detected properly.
Carbon monoxide is created when fuels such as oil, kerosene, gasoline, diesel, coal, propane, natural gas, or wood burn without enough oxygen. With the arrival of cold weather, heat sources being in homes, garages and workspaces increase the risk of CO poisoning.
That’s why Manitoba Hydro is offering rebates on detectors that help protect people from CO.
“There are over 100 retailers participating throughout the province,” said Manitoba Hydro’s Janet Rak.
“There are a number of models that qualify for the $10 rebate. You just have to get the proper one and the rebate will be given to while you purchase the alarm.”
Go to a participating retailer and purchase an eligible CO detector. A list of retailers and products are included here.
- Participating retailers
- Eligible product list
“You want to make sure it’s Can ULC (Underwriters Laboratories of Canada) or CSA approved. Those labels will be on the device and packaging,” added Assistant Chief Mark Reshaur of the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service.
Here are some tips from WFPS to help prevent carbon monoxide from building up in your home:
- install carbon monoxide alarms on all levels of your home and test the alarms regularly
- never idle vehicles in an attached garage, not even with the garage door open
- have your fuel-burning appliances (furnaces, fireplaces, gas dryers) cleaned and checked annually
- clear snow from all fresh air intake vents, exhaust vents and chimneys
- do not use gas-powered generators, charcoal or propane barbecues/grills, or kerosene stoves indoors, or in closed space
How do you know if you are suffering from exposure? Reshaur warns the symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to other ailments and are progressive.
“It closely resembles the flu,” Reshaur explained.
“Initially, you will feel nausea, dizziness, weakness or start vomiting. Those conditions will become much worse over time and you eventually feel chest pains, shortness of breath and you will actually have trouble thinking. From there, there are convolutions and the loss consciousnesses,” he added.
The poisoning can be fatal if it’s not addressed in a timely manner.
There are some key things to do if you suspect CO is in your home or people are experiencing symptoms:
- leave the house immediately
- call 911
If no one in the house is experiencing symptoms of CO poisoning:
- open all doors and windows
- turn off the fuel-burning equipment
- call Manitoba Hydro at 1-888-MB HYDRO for an emergency inspection
This week marks Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week across the country. The $10 rebate will be given out until the end of November.
More safety tips for your home from WFPS can be found here.
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