Know the sources of carbon monoxide in your home

Monday Nov 06th, 2017


Carbon monoxide (CO) has taken the lives of entire Canadian families, left scores of people with debilitating physical and mental handicaps, and sent thousands more to clinics and emergency rooms. It has even inspired new legislation in Ontario and the Yukon.

So why are homeowners still so slow to install the one inexpensive safety device that protects their family from this deadly gas?

“Carbon monoxide safety comes down to awareness and education,” says Carol Heller, a home safety specialist with Kidde Canada. “First you need to realize the danger is very real. Second, you need to know the potential sources of CO in your home. Lastly, you need to feel confident in choosing an alarm that fits your home lifestyle.”

Many times, people think they don't need a carbon monoxide alarm because they have electric baseboard heaters. But they overlook the fact that they may have a gas or propane water heater or stove, a gas or wood fireplace, or a garage or carport attached to their house. “All these are potential sources of CO,” notes Heller.

As long as carbon monoxide is safely vented outside, there is no danger. But if appliances or heating systems are not properly maintained, or chimneys and vents become blocked or cracked, deadly CO can seep back into your home, and you won't even know it.

Since the symptoms of exposure to CO mimic the flu, many people make the mistake of thinking what they are experiencing will just “go away” in time. So they stay home from work or school hoping to get better, and exactly the opposite happens.

Fortunately, protecting your family from carbon monoxide in your home is relatively simple and inexpensive. You can find CSA-approved CO alarms in any quality hardware store at an average cost of between $30 and $60. That's about two cents a day over an alarm's lifespan.

It's important (and sometimes law) to have one working CO alarm outside all sleeping areas. Better yet is adding one per floor, as well. Once Canadians make the smart decision to put a CO alarm in place, it's best to look for “Worry-Free” models that feature a 10-year sealed lithium battery that doesn't need to be changed for the life of the alarm, plus, a continuous digital readout.

“Never having to replace a battery for the 10-year life of the alarm is something consumers told us was very important,” says Heller. “The digital readout is also popular because it shows you if lower levels of CO are present in your home. This way you can take action before the gas reaches dangerous levels.”

More CO safety tips can be found at

Post a comment