Rental housing safety – Carbon Monoxide

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Infographic showing Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – Image from

In a series of blogs about safety practices Riley Marshall explores what you can do to keep yourself safe in the home. This is important information for landlords, tenants and homeowners alike.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a natural gas given off while burning fuel. It is tasteless, odourless, and colourless, but it is poisonous. Do not confuse it with C02 (Carbon Dioxide) which is not poisonous, even if it may have an environmental impact on the planet.

Carbon Monoxide is often referred to as the ‘silent killer’, because high levels can build up in the home without anyone noticing. However in smaller concentrations it can also cause health threatening symptoms, especially in those who already have underlying health issues.

The initial symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning are similar to the flu (but without the fever). They include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

High level CO poisoning results in progressively more severe symptoms, including:

  • Mental confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of muscular coordination
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Ultimately death

Symptom severity is affected by the level of CO in the environment, and how long the exposure has gone on for. Levels of CO in the body can be easily measured by blood tests but ideally tenants and homeowners should have warning devices fitted in the home to detect dangerous levels before they start to suffer symptoms.

There are many ways you can protect yourself against this danger and they are listed here.

  • Make sure appliances are installed and operated according to the manufacturer’s instructions and local building codes. Most appliances should be installed by qualified professionals. Have the heating system professionally inspected and serviced annually to ensure proper operation. The inspector should also check chimneys and flues for blockages, corrosion, partial and complete disconnections, and loose connections.
  • Never service fuel-burning appliances without proper knowledge, skill and tools. Always refer to the owners manual when performing minor adjustments or servicing fuel-burning equipment.
  • Never operate a portable generator or any other gasoline engine-powered tool either in or near an enclosed space such as a garage, house, or other building. Even with open doors and windows, these spaces can trap CO and allow it to quickly build to lethal levels.
  • Install a Carbon Monoxide alarm. While a CO alarm can provide some added protection, it is no substitute for proper use and upkeep of appliances that can produce CO. Do not cover the alarm by furniture or curtains.
  • Never use portable fuel-burning camping equipment inside a home, garage, vehicle or tent unless it is specifically designed for use in an enclosed space and provides instructions for safe use in an enclosed area.
  • Never burn charcoal inside a home, garage, vehicle, or tent.
  • Never leave a car running in an attached garage, even with the garage door open.
  • Never use gas appliances such as ranges, ovens, or clothes dryers to heat your home.
  • Never operate unvented fuel-burning appliances in any room where people are sleeping.
  • Do not cover the bottom of natural gas or propane ovens with aluminium foil. Doing so blocks the combustion air flow through the appliance and can produce CO.
  • During building work, ensure that appliance vents and chimneys are not blocked by debris or materials. Make sure appliances are in proper working order when renovations are complete.

Do follow the Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed! campaign from the website. They are also on Twitter and Facebook, so follow them to get the latest updates and news.

If you are a landlord of rented property speak to your agent about fitting Carbon Monoxide alarms – we are always happy to arrange this for our landlords.


3 thoughts on “Rental housing safety – Carbon Monoxide

  1. Hi just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few
    of the pictures aren’t loading correctly.
    I’m noot sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried
    it in two difverent browsers and boh show the same results.

  2. Pingback: DIY Doctor gives advice on How to make your home safer for children | The DIY Doctor's Blog

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