Fire services across the region are reminding residents to check their carbon monoxide alarms in their homes, in honour of Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week. Firefighters are also reminding residents to get their fuel-burning appliances inspected annually.

In Ontario, more than 65 per cent of injuries and deaths from carbon monoxide occur in the home. Exposure to CO can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, as well as confusion, drowsiness, loss of consciousness and death.

“We want to make sure that everyone is safe in their own homes,” said Kenora Fire Chief Todd Skene. “Carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer. It’s an invisible, odourless and tasteless gas. It actually accumulates in your body over periods of time and you can be exposed over time and get carbon monoxide poisoning.”

CO is produced when fuels such as propane, gasoline, natural gas, heating oil or wood do not burn completely in fuel-burning appliances and devices such as furnaces, gas or wood fireplaces, hot water heaters, stoves, barbecues, portable fuel-burning heaters and generators and vehicles.

“It’s produced when fuels don’t burn completely. Very few fuel-burning appliances actually have 100 per cent combustion, so carbon monoxide is there and needs to be ventilated out of your home. You should also make sure your appliances are inspected annually and regularly-cleaned.”

CO alarms must be installed in your home if you have a fuel-burning appliance, a fireplace or an attached garage. The alarm must be located adjacent to all sleeping areas to increase the likelihood that sleeping occupants will hear the alarm, if it goes off.

“Carbon monoxide moves freely throughout your home. We really recommend that you have them on each level of your house. Even if you have a home with electric heat and don’t have an attached garage, by law you don’t need one, but it’s always a good idea.”

If you live in a condo or apartment building with a service room, CO alarms must be installed in the service room and adjacent to each sleeping area of all homes above, below and beside the service room. In condo or apartment buildings that have a garage. CO alarms must be installed adjacent to each sleeping area of all homes above, below and beside the garage.

Skene says that some of the carbon monoxide incidents that firefighters have responded to include: barbecuing inside of a garage or near a window, warming up your vehicle in an attached garage, using a stove to heat a home, and much more.

Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week began yesterday, and runs until November 7. The week was proclaimed following the Hawkins Gignac Act, 2013, named in honour of the Hawkins family who were tragically killed by carbon monoxide poisoning in their home. The law that requires to have carbon monoxide alarms inside of your home was regulated in October, 2014.

If you need assistance installing, testing or selecting smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, you are asked to contact Kenora Fire and Emergency Services or the Dryden Fire Service.

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