Carbon monoxide is a leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in Ontario, Canada and North America. An estimated 414 Canadians died of carbon monoxide poisoning between 2000 and 2007, including 87 in Ontario.
The nature of carbon monoxide poisoning requires proactive safety measures – waiting until after the poisoning has occurred is too late. Installing a carbon monoxide alarm on each level of a home and outside every sleeping area is key to protecting lives and making homes safer. 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 can be prevented with a simple solution: the mandatory installation of carbon monoxide alarms in all homes.
Four jurisdictions in Canada now require carbon monoxide detectors in all 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.