Preventing Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning this winter
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odourless, colourless and tasteless toxic gas. Its effects can occur well before you are even aware of its presence.
Carbon monoxide is dangerous to your health even at a low level of exposure. When it enters your body, CO bonds with hemoglobin. This reduces the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream, inhibiting the blood’s ability to carry oxygen to the body.
Did you know?
- Two-thirds of all households have at least one source of carbon monoxide in their environment.
- Less than one-third of these households are equipped with a carbon monoxide detector.
Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs faster in some people
That's why it's important to remain vigilant. The following population groups are particularly at risk of developing carbon monoxide poisoning if exposed to the gas:
- pregnant women and their foetuses;
- newborns and children (because their breathing is shallower and faster);
- elderly people (because their breathing is shallower and faster);
- people suffering from pulmonary, respiratory or cardiovascular problems;
- people with anaemia;
- people who engage in intense physical activity in carbon monoxide-contaminated and poorly ventilated environments; and
- people living at high altitudes.
A few preventive measures can save your life:
Identify the sources of carbon monoxide and protect yourself:
- Have your combustion appliances and ventilation in the places where they are used checked.
- The only way to detect the presence of carbon monoxide is to install a carbon monoxide detector.
- Have the condition of your chimney and your furnace ductwork checked.
- In wintertime, remove the snow from your car before you start your engine.
- Never leave your engine running inside the garage, even if the garage door is open.
What are the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning?
Mild poisoning can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and fatigue.
- More serious exposure can cause fainting, convulsions, coma and even death.
To find out more:
Carbon Monoxide Kills, Ministère de santé et des services sociaux