Protecting Against the “Silent Killer”
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a toxic, flammable gas known to cause death or serious injury. Over half of these deaths and injuries occur in apartments or other multi-residential buildings, so it is crucial that housing providers know how to keep their buildings safe.
What are the sources of CO?
The majority of CO incidents are caused by make-up air units, which provide fresh air to a building’s common areas such as hallways, lobbies and parking garages. They are often found in buildings zoned for multiple tenants, and are usually housed on rooftops or in a mechanical room.
While make-up air units are the most common culprits of CO, any fuel-burning appliance that is not properly maintained can be a source. These include:
- Water Heater
- Space Heater
- Portable Generator
It is the building owner’s and any hired contractor’s responsibility to ensure fuel-burning appliances are kept in good repair and comply with the manufacturers certified instructions.
Spot the Symptoms
CO symptoms can present similar to the flu, and may include:
- Burning Eyes
- Loss of Consciousness
If your tenants or staff show symptoms, get everyone (including pets) to fresh air immediately and call 911. Your local fire department can help find the CO source and advise when the building is safe to re-enter.
According to the Technical Standards & Safety Authority (TSSA), the best way to ensure your building is not exposed to CO is to eliminate it at the source. This means having a certified technician inspect fuel-burning appliances, and installing CSA-approved alarms in every unit and all service rooms.
The TSSA released a new printable fuels-risk brochure that you can share with relevant staff and health and safety representatives, Staying Carbon Monoxide Safe from the Ground Up.
If you have questions about your fuels responsibilities, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-877-682-8772.