It’s Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week in Saskatchewan from Nov. 6 – Nov. 10.
The week is meant to highlight the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) and how Saskatchewanians can protect themselves against the colourless, odourless gas.
“Carbon monoxide is sometimes called the invisible killer, and the reason for that is because you can't see it, smell it, feel it or taste it. Unlike many other toxins or poisons, CO doesn't irritate your body or there’s often no warning or danger signs of its presence,” said Cathie Bassett, Public Education Officer with the Moose Jaw Fire Department.
Carbon monoxide is created when products that contain carbon are burned, and carbon monoxide poisoning happens when the gas is not fully vented. Common sources include furnaces, water heaters, gas stoves, fireplaces, or vehicles running in garages.
CO alarms have been mandatory on each floor in all Saskatchewan residences since July 1, 2022, and testing them regularly to make sure that they are still working is an important way to alert people to the presence of carbon monoxide.
“You should be testing them once a month, replacing the batteries once a year, and replacing the whole CO alarm as per the manufacturer’s instructions,” said Bassett. She recommends picking a specific day during the year to replace the batteries to make sure it's not forgotten.
Calls for carbon monoxide increase in the winter months. “We have more calls for CO alarms because we have our furnaces running,” said Bassett. She stresses that, aside from checking carbon monoxide detectors, common sources of carbon monoxide like furnaces should also be properly maintained and inspected.
There are a number of physical symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, including unexplained feelings of nausea or vomiting, confusion, sleepiness, weakness, severe headaches, and a loss of consciousness.
“If your CO alarm sounds and you or other occupants suffer from symptoms of CO poisoning, get everyone out of the home immediately and call 911.”
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