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With cold temps here we close our windows and seal up our homes against the draft of the brisk Canadian winter and while no home is completely air tight, sealing up our homes certainly leads to less air exchange, and hence a possible buildup of carbon monoxide. Known as the silent killer this odourless gas is a by-product of combustion, so while an electric stove would not generate CO (carbon monoxide), a gas stove would.

Other sources of CO can be gas fires, oil burning furnaces, portable generators, charcoal grills and anything that burns gas or a fuel in order to create heat. When CO is breathed in, it replaces oxygen in our blood. A person exposed to CO may notice something wrong but may not know where the symptoms are coming from. Symptoms are flu like and may include loss of balance, vision problems, memory problems and eventually loss of consciousness.

If household appliances are well services and used safely they should produce negligible quantities of CO gas but older appliances that have not been serviced frequently can lead to a higher risk of CO emission. Have chimneys and flues swept and checked once a year, be careful when using gas powered tools inside rooms and think about ventilation. Do not leave gas powered motors like cars or lawn mowers running in garages and make sure generators are more than 20 feet away from all windows. Above all, install CO detectors if your smoke alarms aren’t already equipped with this functionality. These additional detectors can easily be plugged in to outlets and should be installed near combustion devices. 

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