Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that you cannot see, smell or taste. It is often referred to as the “silent killer.” CO is produced by the incomplete burning of fuels such as natural gas, propane, heating oil, kerosene, coal, charcoal or wood.
A Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarm will alert you when dangerous levels of CO are inside your home. A working alarm will ring loudly giving you the and your family the early warning you need to get out immediately. CO alarms can warn you about sudden failures of fuel-burning appliances and are a good first line of defence against CO exposure.
Barrie Fire conducts regular fire safety education and awareness initiatives, programs, and events. See Fire Safety Education & Awareness for details.
What to do if the Alarm Sounds
- Immediately evacuate the building to a fresh air location, ensuring everyone inside the home is accounted for
- Call 9-1-1 once you're safely outside and stay there until first responders arrive
Types of CO Alarms
There are different types of alarms with different features, so choosing the right one can be confusing. Take comfort in knowing that while alarms might look different and/or have different features, they are all tested to the same standard. Make sure that the alarm you are purchasing is CSA-6.19 Residential Carbon Monoxide Alarming Devices or UL 2034 Single and Multiple Station Carbon Monoxide alarms. Features to consider:
- Power Source
CO alarms can be electrically powered, battery-powered, electrical plugin or a combination. If you are installing a plugin type or electrically wired alarm, a battery backup is recommended in case of power failures.
- Digital Display
A digital display shows the parts per million (PPM) of CO that is in your home. Alarms aren't activated unless levels reach 70 PPM, however a digital readout gives you an opportunity to have fuel-fired equipment inspected and repaired prior to an emergency occurring.
Where to Install CO Alarms
Unlike smoke, CO mixes freely with the air, so your CO alarm doesn't have to go on the ceiling or up high. It does need to be near the area where you sleep so that it is loud enough to wake you up and get you into action. If your home has a fuel-burning appliance or an attached garage, install a carbon monoxide alarm adjacent to each sleeping area. Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and follow them exactly.
If you live in an apartment or condo building and there is a fuel-burning appliance inside your unit, install a carbon monoxide alarm adjacent to your sleeping area. Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and follow them exactly.
If the building has a service room with a fuel-burning appliance, CO alarms must be installed in the service room and adjacent to each sleeping area of all condos/apartment/units above, below and beside the service room.
If the building has a garage, CO alarms must be installed adjacent to each sleeping area of all condos/apartment/units above, below and beside the service room.
Testing & Replacing Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Test your CO alarms at least once a month, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Read the manufacturer’s instructions on replacing alarms carefully and follow them exactly. Carbon monoxide alarms do not last forever. Check the expiry date on the alarm so that you know when to replace them. If you cannot find a date, replace the alarm.