News / Edmonton

Carbon monoxide threat ramps up as the weather cools in Edmonton

Officials are urging residents to take precautions.

Fire officials recommend digital carbon monoxide detectors to keep homes safe this winter.

File / Toronto Star

Fire officials recommend digital carbon monoxide detectors to keep homes safe this winter.

Officials are urging Edmontonians to watch out for a silent killer creeping into their homes.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a growing risk going into the colder months, according to Alberta municipal affairs fire safety officer Ross Bennett.

“It’s much more prevalent in the winter and fall,” Bennett said.

“Wintertime of course we fire up furnaces, fireplaces, candles, all those nice little heat sources.”

Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of combustion and is given off by anything that burns. The problem comes when people start leaving windows closed to keep out the cold, or cars running in attached garages.

Early symptoms are flu-like, including headaches, and are sometimes dismissed as such.

Six members of a south Edmonton family had to be treated after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning in their home earlier this month.

Bennett said it’s important to check furnace filters, make sure chimneys are cleared of debris, and always warm up your vehicle outside. He said carbon monoxide does not discriminate between new and old homes.

“Your body likes carbon monoxide more than it does oxygen. If it has a choice of taking oxygen or carbon monoxide, it will take the carbon monoxide, which is not a good thing,” he said.

Bennett urges Edmontonians to get carbon monoxide detectors, which were not required under provincial building codes until 2006. If you do have one, make sure to replace it every seven to 10 years and check the batteries annually.

“A lot of people don’t even know if they (have one) or don’t,” Bennett said.

“They’re an extremely cheap way of being safe.”

If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, Bennett said you should leave your home and call ATCO or the fire department.

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