Carbon Monoxide

CO alarm
Quick Facts on Carbon Monoxide (CO)

WHAT IS IT: A colourless, odourless and tasteless gas.

SIGNS: Stuffy air, water vapour, backdraft and soot from a fireplace.

SYMPTOMS: Headaches, weakness, nausea, vomiting and loss of muscle control. They can be mistaken for flu symptoms.

EFFECTS: If inhaled, carbon monoxide deprives the blood of oxygen. Prolonged exposure can lead to unconsciousness, brain damage or death.

CAUSES:Blocked or dirty vents, flues, chimneys and furnaces, as well as improper ventilation of burning fireplaces or woodstoves.

DEATHS: Approximately 200 per year. For more statistics visit

PREVENTION: Annual inspection and cleaning of:

  • Furnaces
  • Chimneys
  • Fireplaces
  • Other fuel-burning equipment such as gas dryers
Safety tips on how to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning:

INSTALL at least one carbon monoxide detector in your home.

ENSURE a wood or coal-burning stove is properly installed and vented.

DON'T operate a gasoline-powered engine, kerosene stove or charcoal grill in a closed space.

BARBECUE grills should never be operated indoors.

CHECK clothes dryer vents that open outside the house for lint.

CHECK forced air fans for proper ventilation.

If you suspect carbon monoxide in your home, get out immediately and call the fire department.


You are here: Home Fire Prevention Home Safety Carbon Monoxide