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Carbon Monoxide
Summer Carbon Monoxide Safety

Carbon monoxide safety: Summer

What is carbon monoxide (CO)?

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, and tasteless gas produced by burning carbon fuels such as propane, natural gas, oil, wood, charcoal, alcohol, kerosene or gasoline. Exposure to carbon monoxide interferes with the body’s ability to absorb oxygen, which can result in serious illness or death.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pains

As CO builds up in the bloodstream, symptoms change and will magnify.

What to look out for

  • Increased confusion and drowsiness
  • Fast breathing, fast heartbeat, or increased chest pain
  • Vision problems
  • Seizures

Summer carbon monoxide sources

Camping and recreational vehicles

If you are camping in a tent, trailer or RV, appliances like barbecues, oil lamps, portable heaters and stoves, can generate carbon monoxide. Another common source of CO is the exhaust from a vehicle engine or a generator.

How to prevent carbon monoxide exposure

  • Pack a portable battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm or combo smoke/CO alarm
  • Only use fuel-burning appliances outside your tent, trailer, or RV
  • Don't ignore the sound of a CO alarm 

Cabin and vacation rentals

In a cabin or vacation rental, gas-fired furnaces, boilers, hot water tanks, stoves, dryers, and fireplaces can generate carbon monoxide. Only a carbon monoxide alarm will alert you to the presence of CO.

How to prevent carbon monoxide exposure

  • Make sure the vacation rental lists a CO alarm or pack a portable battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm or combo smoke/CO alarm

Boating

Gas-powered engines on boats, including onboard generators, produce carbon monoxide. On larger boats, such as houseboats, CO can buildup on or near the swim deck, inside the cabin or in any open area. Towing a tube behind a boat using a short rope can give riders carbon monoxide poisoning.

How to prevent carbon monoxide exposure

  • Never block exhaust outlets 
  • Properly install and maintain all fuel-burning engines and appliances
  • Install and maintain a working CO alarm inside the boat
  • Dock, beach, or anchor at least 20 feet away from the nearest boat that is running a generator or engine
  • Avoid swimming near or under the back deck or swim platform
  • Watch children closely when they play on rear swim decks or water platforms

What to do if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning?

If you believe you or someone is being poisoned by CO, or if your CO alarm goes off:

  • Turn your appliances off
  • Get everyone outside, including pets
  • Call 911 or your local emergency number
  • Seek medical attention

If you are unable to leave your home, move next to an open window or an open door.

Don’t return to the area until you’re sure it’s safe—if you’re not sure, wait for emergency responders to tell you everything is OK.

Learn more about CO poisoning symptoms, what to do if you suspect a CO leak and additional CO prevention tips.
 

Learn more

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