Every year, carbon monoxide kills an average of 11 people in Ontario and around 50 people across Canada. The greatest number of these deaths occur in December and January, but death can occur all year round. In Ontario, Carbon Monoxide Awareness week is a good time to assess your risk and review your family’s safety plan.
What is carbon monoxide? Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless gas produced by the incomplete burning of any carbon-containing material, including gasoline, natural gas, propane, coal, or wood. CO is dangerous because it replaces oxygen in the blood and interferes with the transport of needed oxygen to cells in the body. Carbon monoxide is silent and deadly and can kill entire families overnight.
The Excalibur Insurance Group, as a member of the Perth Huron Insurance Brokers Association, helped sponsor the making of an attention-grabbing carbon monoxide (CO) safety video, “The Wake Up Call”. Other people teaming up to support this project where the Perth East, North Perth, West Perth, Stratford and St. Mary’s Fire Department, City of Stratford, Perth County Mutual Aid Fire Services, Perth County Fire Chiefs Association, Perth East and West Firefighters’ Association and the Kinsmen Club of Mitchell & District. The video shows how a CO device saved a family from certain death. Fire prevention officer of East and West Perth, Todd McKone, and award-winning filmmaker Zach Patton, worked hard to create this video to educate people of the risk of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. (See videos below)
Ontario’s Carbon Monoxide Law
Carbon Monoxide Law in Effect October 15, 2014 in Ontario (Bill 77)
The law-making carbon monoxide warning devices mandatory in Ontario took effect October 15, 2014. Bill 77 declares that failing to install a carbon monoxide detector can land you with a $235 fine. For the Excalibur Insurance Group, it is not about the fine or the money: it is about saving lives and protecting your family.
The Progressive Conservative MPP, Ernie Hardeman, introduced a private member’s bill calling for mandatory Carbon Monoxide detectors after the tragic death in 2008 of OPP officer Laurie Hawkins, her husband, Richard, and their two children. A blocked gas fireplace vent sent carbon monoxide through their Woodstock home, which did not contain any warning devices.
The new law, Bill 77, updates the Ontario Fire Code to mandate the use of carbon monoxide warning devices in houses, condos, apartments, hotels and university residences that have a fuel-burning device such as a fireplace, gas stove, water heater or furnace — or if the home is attached to a garage.
For details of how this law affects renters and landlords, click here for more details.
Common Sources of Carbon Monoxide
The main sources of carbon monoxide are produced in the home from the following sources:
- Water heaters
- Clothes dryers
- Kerosene heaters
- Gasoline engines
- Gasoline refrigerators
- Wood burning/gas burning stoves
- Furnaces or boilers
- Motor vehicles
- Grills and generators
- Power tools
- Lawn equipment
See the graphic below for sources of carbon monoxide emissions in the typical family home.
How Do Carbon Monoxide Detectors Work?
Carbon Monoxide Alarm uses sophisticated electronics and sensor technology to detect and record the levels of CO circulating in your indoor air. The Carbon Monoxide Alarm will protect you and your family from acute carbon monoxide poisoning by alerting you to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide inside your home.
You can monitor the current CO level in your home on a large, easy-to-read digital display. When dangerous levels of CO are present, a loud, audible alarm alerts you and your family automatically.
- The Carbon Monoxide Alarm’s peak level memory allows professionals to quickly assess the level of exposure in the event of an alarm.
- A rechargeable lithium-ion battery ensures continued detection and warning even during a power outage.
- For peace of mind, you can check to see if your CO alarm is functioning properly with the simple push of a button.
- Check the alarm weekly and having it professionally inspected on an annual basis.
Where to Install a Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Since carbon monoxide moves freely in the air, the suggested location is in or as near as possible to sleeping areas of the home. The human body is most vulnerable to the effects of carbon monoxide during sleeping hours. To work properly the unit must not be blocked by furniture or draperies. Carbon Monoxide is virtually the same weight as air and therefore the alarm protects you in a high or low location. For maximum protection, a carbon monoxide alarm should be located outside primary sleeping areas, in sleeping areas and in each level of your home.
Some locations may interfere with the proper operation of the alarm and may cause false alarms or trouble signals.CO alarms should not be installed in the following locations:
- Where the temperature may drop below 4.4o C (40oF) or exceed 37.8oC (100oF).
- Near paint thinner fumes or household cleaning products. Ensure proper ventilation when using these types of chemicals.
- Within 1.5m (5 feet) of any cooking or open flame appliances such as furnaces, stoves, and fireplaces.
- In exhaust streams from gas engines, vents, flues, or chimneys.
- Do not place near an automobile exhaust pipe; this will damage the alarm.