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Take these steps to protect your home from carbon monoxide
Nov. 14, 2022

Every year, Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week is observed from Nov. 1 to 7. According to the Ontario Fire Marshal, one of the top safety concerns this time of year is heating equipment.

As the temperature drops and people turn on their furnaces for the season, several safety issues could arise, especially the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Here are steps to help keep you and your family safe this month and throughout the year.

Heating equipment is just one potential source of CO. The poisonous gas is produced when fuels (e.g. propane, gasoline, natural gas, heating oil or wood) do not burn completely in any fuel-burning appliance (such as furnaces, fireplaces, water heaters, stoves, barbecues, portable heaters and generators) or vehicles.

Be sure to get annual inspections and perform regular maintenance on all your fuel-burning appliances, and install CO alarms.

In Ontario, the law requires a working CO alarm to be installed outside of all sleeping areas of homes with a fuel-burning appliance, a fireplace or an attached garage.

Ideally, you should install a CO alarm on every level of your home. For the best protection, interconnect all your alarms so when one alarm sounds, they all do.

Daylight time just ended on Sunday, Nov. 6. Changing the batteries in your alarms when the time changes is a great way to help ensure your alarms will be in good working order in case of an emergency.

But did you know smoke and CO alarms have an expiration date? Smoke alarms expire every 10 years, and CO alarms expire every five to 10 years. They will have a date marked on them. You can also check the manufacturer’s instructions for when to replace your alarms.

The manufacturer’s instructions will also help you learn the difference between the alarm’s low-battery warning, end-of-life warning and emergency alarm. It’s important to know the difference between the sounds so you can take the appropriate action when the alarms go off.

Typically, a continuous beeping or steady tone means there is an emergency, and you should get out, call 911 and stay out. A single chirp every 30 or 60 seconds, or a series of three rapid beeps, means the battery is low and must be changed. Chirping that continues after switching the battery means the alarm is at the end of its life and must be replaced.

To learn more, visit and watch Vaughan Fire and Rescue Service’s carbon monoxide alarms and carbon monoxide safety videos.

Please take a few minutes to replace the batteries and test your alarms. Remember, working alarms save lives.

Andrew Zvanitajs is the fire chief of the Vaughan Fire and Rescue Service.