Carbon Monoxide: the Silent Killer

Carbon Monoxide is a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas that is referred to as “the Silent Killer.”

If you have a gas, oil, propane or wood-burning heating system or appliance, you need carbon monoxide (CO) alarms! It is up to each of us to protect our families. Click the image below to enlarge the information.

Carbon monoxide can only be detected with a carbon monoxide alarm.

You should have at least one CO alarm installed in your home, in addition to a smoke alarm (or as a combined smoke & CO alarm). Regular smoke alarms alert you to fires, not carbon monoxide.

CO alarms can be purchased at any hardware or home equipment store.

Safety Tips:

  • Health Canada reminds Canadians to check for a recognized Canadian certification mark on the product when purchasing smoke or carbon monoxide (CO) alarms online or in-store. Products that do not have a recognized Canadian certification mark may not meet Canadian performance standards and could fail or operate incorrectly, putting you and your family at risk. Get more information from Health Canada online.
  • Every time the clocks ‘change’ (Spring and Fall), replace the batteries in EACH of your home – and cottage – smoke and CO detectors. Be proactive about protecting your family!


  • Over 50 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning in Canada, including 11 on average in Ontario.
  • The Ontario Building Code requires the installation of carbon monoxide alarms in homes and other residential buildings built after 2001.
  • About CO Awareness Week: Establishing an annual awareness week was part of Bill 77, passed in 2013, which made CO alarms mandatory in all Ontario homes.
  • CO Awareness Week is held in early November, but cottagers should be aware of CO safety year-round.

Learn more about CO safety from the Technical Standards & Safety Authority and from the province of Ontario’s website.

Also check out the webpages of the Hawkins Gignac Foundation for personal accounts of the dangers of CO, and more about what you can do to protect your family.

For more about fire safety preparedness and prevention, visit FOCA’s Fire Safety webpage.

Please note: the following is archival material, and some links to third-party resources may no longer be active.

Nov.27, 2013 – CO bill (‘the Hawkins Gignac Act’) is passed after 3rd reading in Ontario Legislature. CO detectors will be required by law in all Ontario homes. Read more in this CBC news item…

May 22, 2013 – Read this CBC News story about carbon monoxide, including the symptoms of CO poisoning…