OFMEM - What is Carbon Monoxide?

What is carbon monoxide?

  • Carbon monoxide (CO) is known as the silent killer because it is an invisible, tasteless and odourless gas that can be deadly.
  • CO is produced when fuels such as propane, gasoline, natural gas, heating oil or wood do not burn completely in fuel-burning appliances and devices such as furnaces, fireplaces, hot water heaters, stoves, barbeques, portable heaters and generators or vehicles.
  • Over 80% of CO-related injuries and deaths in Ontario occur in the home (source: TSSA).

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Exposure to CO can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea and dizziness, as well as confusion, drowsiness, loss of consciousness and death.
  • If your CO alarm sounds, and you or other occupants suffer from symptoms of CO poisoning, get everyone out of the home immediately. Then call 9-1-1 or your local emergency services number from outside the building.
  • If your CO alarm sounds, and no one is suffering from symptoms of CO poisoning, check to see if the battery needs replacing, or the alarm has reached its "end-of-life" before calling 9-1-1.