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December 25, 2004
Toronto Fire Services reminds residents of dangers of carbon monoxide
  
Toronto Fire Services today responded to a call that resulted in four adults
and three children being taken to hospital as a result of carbon monoxide
poisoning. This time of year, with furnaces and other heating appliances being
used extensively and snow piling up around vents, Toronto Fire Services would
like to remind the public of the following;

What's the big deal?
Carbon monoxide poisoning is the number-one cause of accidental poisoning
deaths in North America. Know the facts.

What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is a gas that you cannot see, smell or taste. It is produced by
gas or oil furnaces, space and water heaters, clothes dryers, ovens, wood
stoves and other household appliances that run on fossil fuels such as wood,
gas, oil or coal.

Why is carbon monoxide so deadly?
When you inhale carbon monoxide, it can cause brain damage, suffocation or
death. Because you cannot see, smell or taste this deadly gas, poisoning can
happen to anyone, any time, anywhere. Everyone is at risk but pregnant women,
young children, senior citizens and people with heart and lung problems are at
greater risk. If your home is well sealed or not well ventilated, the levels of
carbon monoxide in the air may easily rise to deadly levels.

Warning signs
At first, carbon monoxide poisoning and the flu seem a lot alike. Early warning
signs of low-level poisoning include tiredness, headaches, dizziness, nausea or
vomiting and shortness of breath. Your skin may also turn pink or red in
response to rising blood pressure. If you experience any of these symptoms, you
may be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning and should call 9-1-1 and talk
to your doctor.

Protect yourself
  • Install at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, especially outside sleeping areas. There are several types of detectors, including battery-operated and plug-in models. Install the carbon monoxide detector according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Have a qualified service technician inspect and clean your fuel-burning appliances, furnace, vent pipe and chimney flues once a year. Birds' nests, twigs and old mortar in chimneys can block proper ventilation and lead to build-up of carbon monoxide gas in the home.
Maintenance
Test your carbon monoxide detector regularly to make sure it is operating
properly. The owner's manual should tell you how to test your alarm. Remember
to check the manual for information on when to buy a new carbon monoxide
detector.

Keep vents clear
With snow piling up, you should periodically check furnace, direct vent
fireplace and dryer vents to ensure they are not blocked by snow causing fumes
to back-up into the house.

What should you do if the detector alarm sounds?
If the detector sounds, you and all members of your household should leave your
home immediately. From outside the home, call 9-1-1. Do not go back inside
until the problem has been found and corrected. Fire Services will inspect your
home to find the source of the carbon monoxide.

In case of fire or an emergency, call 9-1-1.

Media contact:
David Sheen
Toronto Fire Services Public Information Office
416-338-9317
pager: 416-468-9978



 

 

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