As the weather cools down and the heating season approaches, the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service is reminding citizens to be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide.
Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas that is released when heating oil, gasoline, diesel, propane, kerosene, natural gas or wood burns without enough oxygen. Dangerous accumulations of carbon monoxide can result from a faulty appliance, clogged chimney, inadequate venting or a buildup of engine exhaust.
The symptoms of minor carbon monoxide poisoning can mimic those of the common flu such as headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, mental confusion, weakness, vision or hearing impairment and shortness of breath. These symptoms can often be confused with the flu.
Severe poisoning is usually the result of prolonged exposure to highly elevated levels of carbon monoxide and can lead to unconsciousness and even death.
Tips for preventing carbon monoxide poisoning:
* Have fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, wood-burning fireplaces and gas dryers cleaned and checked annually by a qualified service technician.
* Install a carbon monoxide detector on all levels of your home and especially near bedrooms.
* Never idle vehicles in an attached garage even if the door is open.
* Ensure that all external vents – such as fresh air intake vents, exhaust vents and chimneys – are clear of snow, insulation, leaves, birds’ nests, lint or debris.
* Make sure wood and coal-burning stoves are properly installed and vented.
* Don’t operate gasoline-powered engines, kerosene stoves or charcoal grill in closed spaces.
* Never operate barbecue grills indoors.
* Check forced air fans for proper ventilation.
If you suspect carbon monoxide in your home, exit immediately and call 911.
For appliance inspections, call Manitoba Hydro at 204-480-5900.
For more information on carbon monoxide safety visit www.winnipeg.ca/fps/pdfs/Carbon%20Monoxide%20Safety.pdf