What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a highly poisonous gas, which has no smell, taste or colour. Since it is extremely hard to identify, CO is one of the leading causes of accidental poisoning deaths in North America. CO is a by-product of combustion and is produced when fuel-burning appliances don’t get enough air to burn the fuel completely. CO absorbs 200 times faster in the blood stream than normal oxygen. At high levels or during continued exposure, CO can cause suffocation, resulting in loss of consciousness, brain damage or death.

 

Areas of Concern

Any indoor workplace or building with fuel burning equipment presents a potential hazard. Staff and guests in confined spaces can be exposed to CO, but it can also be present in large buildings, as well as well-ventilated areas. Potential sources of CO include:

  • Gas-powered engines
  • Fireplaces
  • Natural gas space heaters
  • Furnaces
  • Natural gas ovens
  • Boilers
  • Natural gas dryers

 

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Poor vision

 

If Your Alarm Activates

If your CO alarm goes off, get everybody out of the building and into fresh air. Have a plan in place to ensure that all guests and staff have been safely evacuated. Call 911 or your local emergency services. Advise emergency services of anybody that has not been accounted for. Do not go back into the building until it is safe to do so.

 

Prevention
  • Perform an external check of your hotel to ensure that all exterior vents are clear of blockages, such as snow, ice or debris.
  • Have a qualified contractor perform an annual maintenance review of heating systems and other fuel-burning appliances to ensure all systems are running properly.
  • Ensure that your business has installed monitored carbon monoxide detectors. These detectors should also be inspected annually to ensure they are functioning properly.
  • It is a requirement that CO detectors be installed in all buildings that are required to have a Fire Safety Inspection and where there is a potential risk for CO infiltration. The authority having jurisdiction for the fire safety inspection has the authority to determine what level of CO protection is required based on a risk analysis.

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