Part 1 of 2
Winter can be enjoyable for your family, but does require preparation on your part. Here is a handy guide to help you prevent Carbon Monoxide hazards, make proper use of heating in your home and review of fire safety – all of which help to keep your family safe.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a common hazard in the home that can be deadly, but can be prevented using four easy steps:
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas which is odourless and invisible. CO is created by household appliances, such as furnaces, gas stoves, propane heaters, fireplaces, or other fuel burning equipment.
2. Eliminate CO Hazards At Their Source
Heating and fuel-burning equipment should be inspected annually by a certified technician working for a TSSA registered heading contractor. If you need to verify a contractor’s status, call 1-877-682-8772 (TSSA).
3. Install Certified CO Alarms
Alarms warn of rising CO levels. Having one is also the law in Ontario. Be sure to follow manufacturer instructions or contact your local fire department for proper installation.
i) Install an alarm on every level of your home, near sleeping areas, but away from vents, bathrooms, heating/fuel-burning appliances, and smoke alarms
ii) Test your CO alarms monthly by pushing the test button
iii) Change batteries annually
iv) Replace your CO alarms as required – typically every 7 years.
4. Know the Symptoms of CO Poisoning
Flu-like symptoms such as nausea, headache, confusion, drowsiness and burning eyes – but no fever - are signs of CO poisoning. If these symptoms appear, evacuate everyone (including pets) and call 911 or your local fire department.
Proper Use of Wood Stoves, Fireplaces, and Portable Space Heaters
While Carbon Monoxide is a hazard, proper use of wood stoves, fireplaces, and portable space heaters is also essential to your family’s safety.
Wood Stoves and Fireplaces:
Fireplaces and wood stoves should be checked routinely to make sure that they are operating properly and hazard free.
i) Check connections and pipe stoves
Screws should be located at every joint, and connections should have a tight and secure. Look for signs of dark staining or white powder (leeching) and rust.
ii) Protect floors and walls from heat and sparks
Combustible objects should be kept away from fireplaces and wood stoves, and fireplace openings should be fitted with screens. Nearby walls and floors should be protected with non-combustible shields.
iii) Check walls for signs of excessive heat
If walls above a wood stove or fireplace are very hot, your chimney may be improperly installed, and a possible fire hazard.
iv) Watch for warning signs
Rust or corrosion on the outer shells of metal chimneys, corrosion or bulges on lingers, crumbling mortar, loose bricks, white power and dark stains all indicate chimney masonry problems. These should be immediately repaired by a certified heating contractor or mason.
v) If you have any doubts, call an expert
Annual maintenance of chimneys, woodstoves and fireplaces should be handled by WETT certified experts.
Portable space heaters
Electric space heaters are a convenient way to add extra comfort to your home. These safety tips, along with manufacturer’s instructions will help you stay safe and warm. Never use fuel-burning portable space heaters (like those that use propane or kerosene) in enclosed spaces – this leads to deadly Carbon Monoxide exposure.
• Never use space heaters to dry flammable objects
• Space heaters should not be left unattended, and be shut off before going to sleep
• Only purchase electric space heaters that have the mark of a recognized regulatory or certification agency
• Extension cords should be the correct gauge, size, and able to bear the electrical load
• Flammable objects should be at least one metre away
• Electric space heaters should never be used in areas that can be exposed to water or that are wet
(To be continued in next issue)