Safety systems include carbon monoxide alarms, radon test kits and smoke alarms. Carbon monoxide is often referred to as the silent killer because it is colourless, odourless and tasteless. According to the National Center for Environmental Health, “when winter temperatures plummet and home heating systems run for hours the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning increases”. As we enjoy the warmer weather it is also important to be mindful of any malfunctioning appliances, ventilation issues or confined spaces such as furnace room areas, the garage and anywhere fuel-burning equipment may be stored.
Common symptoms can include the following: headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, confusion. Individuals can also be asymptomatic. Accidental exposure in people and animals can be fatal. The Technical Standards & Safety Authority (TSSA) recommends two things to prevent harm. 1. Get an annual inspection. 2. Install and regularly check carbon monoxide alarms. Alarms are mandatory in all residential homes. To ensure compliance with Ontario Fire Code, this vital life safety system is “required near all sleeping areas in residential homes and in the service rooms, and adjacent sleeping areas in multi-residential units”.
Radon is also invisible odourless and tasteless and is in all buildings. Therefore, also another dangerous gas to be aware of. While not a legal requirement to have a test kit, radon detectors can alert residents to unhealthy and hazardous concentrations. Over, “3,000 people per year die from radon-induced lung cancer”. According to Health Canada, it is the second leading cause of lung cancer. I have included a link to another helpful resource, which provides more information on where to purchase a reliable test kit. “Take Action on Radon” is a national Health Canada initiative with its advisory team comprised of key stakeholders such as: Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (CARST) and the Canadian Cancer Society.
Smoke alarms are mandatory on every storey and must be installed outside all sleeping areas. The law concerning placement, installation and maintenance applies to all single-family, semi-detached and town homes, regardless whether they are owner-occupied or rented. There are severe penalties to both homeowners and landlords for non-compliance. Landlords may be held liable for fines of up to $50,000. Remember to always check the batteries at least every six months and test each device at least once a month. Pressing the “test” button will immediately indicate whether your smoke alarm is working properly. Carbon monoxide detectors do have an expiration date, replace every five years. Smoke detectors typically have a life span of 10 years.
For more helpful tips on staying safe this Spring and Summer, visit “Spring & Summer Fire Safety Tips!”, courtesy of Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs.