Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odourless, colourless gas created when fossil fuels such as gasoline or methane burn incompletely.
In the home, heating and cooking equipment produce CO, as can a wood stove or a gas fireplace. Vehicle exhaust in another major producer of CO and this can be dangerous if a vehicle is left running in an attached garage. Especially in the winter months, it’s important to let your car heat up outside of your garage. Carbon monoxide has been dubbed “the silent killer” since most people are unaware there is a problem until it is too late. Symptoms of mild CO poisoning are similar to flu symptoms but more serious poisoning leads to difficulty breathing and even death. Just how sick you get varies from person to person depending on age, overall health, the concentration and length of exposure. The likelihood of severe poisoning is greater at night when you are asleep.
Consumers can protect themselves against CO poisoning through the proper use, maintenance and venting of heating and cooking equipment, and by being cautious when using vehicles in attached garages. Carbon monoxide detectors save lives like smoke detectors do.
Every home should have at least one CO detector; it should be placed near the primary sleeping area of your home. If you have more than one detector, keep one on each level in your home.