As fall fades into winter, SaskEnergy is reminding people of the dangers of a potential silent killer in their homes.
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Spokesperson Alana Johnson said SaskEnergy wants to make sure people know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning and what they can do to keep themselves safe.
“This time of the year it gets cooler out there and people are going to be using their furnaces more,” Johnson said.
“Carbon monoxide is produced in the combustion process, or when anything is burned, so when you’re burning wood, when you’re burning charcoal, when you’re burning propane, or when you’re burning natural gas. Where it becomes problematic is when there’s lack of ventilation and carbon monoxide can accumulate in small spaces like your home,” Johnson explained.
Carbon monoxide is also produced when furnaces, stoves, water heaters and fireplaces malfunction.
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Low-level exposure causes flu-like symptoms. Continued exposure can cause unconsciousness, loss of muscle control, brain damage and death.
There were 16 carbon monoxide deaths in Saskatchewan between 2015 and 2019.
Dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can build up when there is inadequate air supply or ventilation for appliances.
“When your furnace is running a lot and especially when maybe there’s the freeze-thaw cycle, you want to make sure there is no ice or snow covering the vents that would allow for your furnace and appliances to vent properly to the outside.”
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Johnson said the real challenge is that carbon monoxide is odourless, colourless and tasteless so it’s difficult to know if it’s in your home.
Safety measures to protect yourself from carbon monoxide include installing a CO detector and inspecting and maintaining all gas-powered appliances.
Johnson also recommends residents who have fireplaces ensure the chimney is free of debris.
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