Learn more about this silent killer to help keep your employees and customers safe!
A tragic winter story in Canada1… An employee of an architect firm, working on a Sunday, collapses and is taken to the hospital. He later dies from what appears to be a heart attack. When officials return to the premises on Monday, they learn that several other employees are also feeling sick. What seemed like a heart attack was really carbon monoxide poisoning. It claimed the life of one employee and left 20 others ill. The cause? A vent on a chimney had collapsed, allowing deadly carbon monoxide to build up. With no carbon monoxide detectors in the building, the high levels of this deadly gas had gone unnoticed until it was too late.
Here’s what you need to know to help protect your employees and customers from carbon monoxide poisoning.
What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a highly poisonous gas. It has no smell, taste or colour, which is why it's often called the silent killer. CO poisonings result in more than 50 deaths in Canada yearly2, and are the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in North America3.
CO is a by-product of fuel-burning appliances and equipment using natural gas, oil, wood, propane or kerosene. When these fossil fuels don't get enough air to burn completely, carbon monoxide levels increase.
CO in the workplace
Any indoor workplace where engines are running presents a potential hazard. Workers and customers in confined spaces can be exposed to CO, but it can also be present in large buildings, as well as well-ventilated areas. Many businesses have something that poses a CO threat, including:
- Furnaces, kilns and boilers
- Gas stoves
- Gas water heaters
- Gasoline-powered tools (for example, saws)
- Natural gas space heaters
- Portable generators
The risk for CO poisoning is always present, but it rises in winter, when windows are closed and vents can become covered with ice and snow, causing dangerous levels of CO to build up. This can lead to drowsiness, nausea, unconsciousness and, ultimately, death.
Symptoms of CO poisoning
When you breathe in carbon monoxide, it replaces oxygen in your bloodstream. Large amounts of CO can overcome you in a very short time, causing you to lose consciousness in just 1 hour4. Smaller amounts can be just as dangerous. Sudden chest pain may occur in individuals with heart conditions. It can also mimic the flu, with symptoms such as headache, fatigue, muscle weakness, dizziness, nausea and drowsiness.
Top tips to prevent CO poisoning in your workplace
- Perform a yearly maintenance of heating systems and other fuel-burning appliances.
- Do an external check of your business to ensure that all exterior vents are clear of snow, ice or debris.
- Most importantly, install monitored carbon monoxide detectors.
A monitored carbon monoxide detector is your best weapon.
Monitored CO detectors from ADT Canada provide additional peace of mind by adding enhanced protection. By subscribing to carbon monoxide monitoring, we will contact you when your carbon monoxide detector in your business is triggered. If you are unresponsive, we’ll promptly alert emergency response services. ADT Canada has 3 ULC-certified Canadian monitoring centres operating 24/7 coast to coast, watching out for you and your business.
Call 800-653-9111 today to learn more about carbon monoxide monitoring from ADT Canada, the most trusted name in the security industry and backed by the most trusted employees.
 "Man dies of carbon monoxide poisoning at Winnipeg business, 20 others sick", CBC News, December 2016, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/carbon-monoxide-poisoning-death-1.3899934