Carbon monoxide is a leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in Ontario, Canada and North America. According to Statistics Canada, between 2000 – 2013 in Canada, there were 1,125 deaths from CO poisoning, including 87 in Ontario (Source: Cohen et al., 2017)
The nature of carbon monoxide poisoning requires proactive safety measures – waiting until after the poisoning has occurred is too late. Without a carbon monoxide alarm, families are unable to detect the presence of this poisonous gas, in any concentration. Symptoms of exposure, such as headaches and nausea, are often mistaken for the flu and either ignored or misdiagnosed. That is why carbon monoxide is referred to as “the silent killer.” It cannot be detected by people because it is colourless, odourless and tasteless.
The good news is that carbon monoxide poisoning within the home can be prevented with a few key safety measures.
Did you know that four jurisdictions in Canada now require carbon monoxide detectors in residences? Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec and the Yukon all have carbon monoxide legislation.
Investment in poison prevention strategies is cost-effective: $1 spent on poison prevention saves $7 in health care costs. Most carbon monoxide alarms cost less than $35: about two cents a day over the suggested lifespan of a CO alarm.
Cohen, I, Garis, L, Rajabali F, Pike I. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, Hospitalizations and Deaths in Canada. A report by the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit, for the University of the Fraser Valley: Vancouver, BC. October, 2017. Available at https://cjr.ufv.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Carbon-Monoxide-2017-Final-.pdf>