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Protect Yourself from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

With winter upon us, we’re keeping windows and doors closed, heating our homes in a variety of ways, and using our vehicles perhaps more often than we do in summer. All of these things means we are at an increased risk of Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning. The image below shows you some of the different signs of CO poisoning.

COCarbon Monoxide  is an odourless poisonous gas that builds up quickly and reduces the ability of blood to carry oxygen. Without oxygen, body tissue and cells cannot function and the brain is particularly vulnerable. At low levels of CO, Health Canada says you might have a headache, feel tired or short of breath, or find your motor functions impaired. At higher levels of exposure, or with exposure at lower levels for a long time, symptoms can include chest pain, dizziness and trouble thinking. Convulsions, coma and death are possible with high levels of CO exposure. If the levels are very high, death can occur within minutes.

Don’t freak out just yet! There are several things that you can do to reduce the risk of CO poisoning:

  • Ensure that your home has CO detectors, preferable outside of every sleeping area.
  • Fuel-burning appliances should have regular maintenance and ventilation should be checked frequently to ensure it isn’t blocked by snow or leaves.
  • Never bring a barbecue or an outdoor heater or generator inside.
  • Avoid idling your vehicle in the garage, especially with the door closed.
  • Wear proper respiratory equipment if you are working in confined spaces where CO may be present.