Clear your vents

Heavy snowfall in many areas of the country may be welcome for Christmas, but it also brings some bad news in the form of accidents, delays and heart attacks from heavy shoveling. The white stuff also poses a hidden threat to homeowners, since it can block exhaust vents for gas appliances. With any heavy accumulation of snow, it is very important to check any gas appliance that vents outside, such as a furnace, water heater or clothes dryer. Make sure that the vent is completely cleared of snow and other debris. Blocked vents can force carbon monoxide back into the home and lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Prevent damage to your family’s health
Experts at the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) report that 82 percent of the carbon monoxide incidents reported in the past five years could have easily been prevented. The solution is in the proper inspection, use and maintenance of fuel burning appliances.

“We think people are underestimating how easily carbon monoxide threatens the safety of their families,” says Michael Philip, Vice President of TSSA’s Fuels Safety Division. “It is not just high levels that are dangerous. Even low leveexposure over time can damage your health. Your best defence against preventing carbon monoxide poisoning is to have your heating systems cleaned and inspected annually by a certified technician”.

Don’t rely solely on alarms
Carbon monoxide alarms simply aren’t enough protection, according to Mr. Philip. People shouldn’t rely solely on alarms to protect them.

“While we certainly want people to install carbon monoxide alarms, they are only the second line of defence — like a smoke alarm,” said Mr. Philip. “You shouldn’t treat the threat of carbon monoxide any differently than the threat of fire in the home, and most people do their best to prevent fires even if they have a smoke alarm.”

Here’s what you can do to be safe from carbon monoxide this winter:

  • Ensure outside vents and gas connections are clear of debris.
  • Check that all vent screens and hoods are in good repair.
  • Pay attention to how your heating equipment is working. Have any problems promptly  investigated by a certified heating technician.
  • Never leave a car running in an attached garage or underground parking facility — even if the garage door is open.
  • Use caution if you have a remote car starter — people have been known to accidentally start their car in a closed garage.