Fire departments and safety experts are stressing the importance of Ontario’s recent law mandating the installation of carbon monoxide alarms. An alarm is now required in homes of any age that have an attached garage or a furnace, fireplace, appliance or other device that burns natural gas, oil, wood, propane, or other fossil fuel.

Protect your loved ones with these safety tips recommended by Kidde, the leading manufacturer of carbon monoxide and smoke alarms in Canada.

1. Always have a licensed technician check all heating systems and other fuel-fired devices annually. Include flues and ductwork, if they’re cracked or obstructed, lethal CO gas could seep back into your home.

2. Carbon monoxide gas is about the same weight as air. So plug-in, battery powered or combination smoke/CO alarms can be safely installed at any height. The average cost is between $25 and $60 depending on features.

3. The law says CO alarms must be installed outside every sleeping area to increase the likelihood that people asleep will wake up if it goes off.

4. Research shows that homeowners favour CO alarms that have a continuous digital display. The display shows any concentration of the gas, even if it’s below the level that causes the alarm to sound. This allows homeowners to address a small problem before it gets worse.

5. Symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu, but without the fever. Nausea, headaches, and lethargy can turn into confusion, collapse, and even death when fresh air is not present.

6. The newest generation of CO alarms from Kidde are called “worry-free” because they have a sealed lithium battery that lasts 10 years, as either the primary power source or as backup in case of a power outage. They never need to be replaced for the life of the alarm.

7. Like smoke alarms, carbon monoxide and combination smoke/CO alarms do not last forever. Whether hardwired, battery powered or plug-in, replace any CO alarm manufactured prior to 2009.

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