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Beware of carbon monoxide: the silent killer!

Each year, about 30 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning are reported in Outaouais. About 60% of these occur in people’s homes. Other cases occur at work or elsewhere.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odourless toxic gas. It is produced from the incomplete combustion of any combustible material like natural gas, oil, gasoline, propane or wood. CO can result from misuse, a defect, or from poor operation of an appliance. Motorized vehicles, heating, refrigeration and cooking appliances, as well as tools that run on gas, can produce CO.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be caused notably by:

• Chimneys blocked by snow;
• A leak in the drain pipes of heating appliances;
• Operating a motor (e.g. lawnmowers, snow blowers, barbecues, chainsaws, cars, all-terrain vehicles, etc.) in a garage, even when the garage door is open; and
• Inadequate ventilation in a room or tent where there is a main or supplemental heating appliance.

Arenas and go-kart centres also pose a risk of CO poisoning. Motorized vehicles and propane/gas ice re-surfacers (also referred to as Zambonis) that are poorly operated may cause serious poisoning.

Outdoor enthusiasts: Be safe!

Whether in the cottage, a fishing/hunting lodge, a recreational vehicle or a tent, carbon monoxide poisoning can be produced when fuel-fired appliances are used. For example:

• Any non-electric heating system;
• Household appliances that run on propane;
• Generators;
• Motorized tools: chainsaws, compressors, lawnmowers, etc;
• Motorized vehicles;
• Outdoor appliances: barbecues, lamps, furnaces, etc.

See how you can prevent CO poisoning by consulting the pamphlet from the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux.

Protect yourself against CO poisoning

• Install a CO detector close to your bedroom. It is better to install one on each floor of the house, even in the basement.
The figure below shows where your CO detector should be located.


• When you’re camping, be mindful of your lantern or any other appliance that runs on propane.

Symptoms of CO poisoning

Headaches, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, respiratory problems. In the most serious cases, there could be loss of consciousness and even coma and death.

If you suspect the presence of CO or poisoning:

• Evacuate the premises;
• Call Poison Control on 1 800 463-5060 or dial 911; and
• Do not re-enter the premises until advised to do so by experts.

Useful links

Le monoxyde de carbone tue! Protégez-vous Ouvre une nouvelle fenêtre.

Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux - Le monoxyde de carbone tue! Ouvre une nouvelle fenêtre.

Notre santé et notre environnement en Outaouais - Méfiez-vous du monoxyde de carbone! Ouvre une nouvelle fenêtre.