Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Add CO alarm safety to your home by April 15 deadline

Carbon monoxide has gained a significant profile in the past few years as accidental fatalities and near misses make headlines. Now, as the April 15 compliance period arrives for Ontario's new law that says homes with any potential sources of the deadly gas must have a working carbon monoxide alarm installed outside all sleeping areas, here is a refresher on the 'silent killer.'
CO alarms monitor airborne concentration levels of carbon monoxide in parts per million (ppm). They are designed to sense low concentrations over a long period of time as well as high concentrations over a short period of time. Per CSA requirements, all CO alarms will sound when concentrations of 70 ppm are detected. Some alarm models feature a digital display which helps you see if lower levels are present so corrective action can be taken.
Carbon monoxide is a by-product of “incomplete combustion” of fossil fuels burned for energy or heat, such as natural gas, propane, heating oil, kerosene, charcoal, gasoline and wood.
The usual suspects in most homes are wood or gas fireplaces and wood stoves; gas, oil or propane furnaces; gas water heaters or portable generators; and gas stoves and clothes dryers. Vehicles are also prime CO producers, so leaving them running in attached garages is a no-no.
Proper venting is key to ensuring deadly CO does not accumulate in your home. Cracked or blocked chimney flues (carbon, bird's nests), appliance vents and other ductwork are often the cause seepage back into a home. A yearly inspection of all devices by a licensed technician is the first step to CO safety.
Other than an emergency, most recent alarm models chirp to tell you that their battery is low or that it has reached the end of its lifespan.
Alarm location is key. Never install a CO alarm in a furnace room or near windows. Install them outside all sleeping areas so that people will be awakened at night.
It is a small investment for safety. On average, CO alarms cost between $30 and $60, depending on features. New “worry-free” models from manufacturer Kidde Canada have a 10-year lifespan and a sealed lithium battery that also lasts 10 years without needing to be changed.
More CO and fire safety tips can be found at www.safeathome.ca.

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