Check carbon monoxide detectors

For as many as 1.5 million Canadian homes, it may be time to replace carbon monoxide detectors. That’s the word from the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC), in a program to promote awareness of the lethal gas.

“Many Canadian homeowners bought their first CO detectors in the mid-1990s, when domestic models first came on the market,” says Don Warden,  president of the CAFC. “While the units they bought may still be working, we know that they can deteriorate with age, and that technological changes over the years have produced better sensors. So we’re recommending that any CO detectors over five years old be replaced with newer models.”

The Fire Chiefs note that ULC-approved carbon monoxide detectors could have a longer life expectancy than five years. But eventually their sensors wear out and the units need replacing. They recommend all owners of CO detectors test their models by using the test button to ensure they’re in good working order.

Not a crisis
It’s estimated that about one-third of Canadian homes-roughly 3 million, have at least one CO detector. Officials are assuming half bought their detectors in 1994-95. This prodes the 1.5 million figure that may need replacement.

“Replacing old CO detectors is not a crisis issue, although we cannot forget that carbon monoxide poisoning is an extremely serious, and potentially fatal problem,” says Chief Warden. “We haven’t yet come across a situation where a properly maintained CO detector has failed to work in an emergency.”

Test your alarms, and if you have any doubts at all, replace them immediately. One good trick is to test all your fire and smoke alarms every time you reset your clocks in the fall and spring. Follow that rule, and you’re bound to have an effective warning system that just might save your life.