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Carbon monoxide is a year-round threat

(NC) While most people equate carbon monoxide danger with winter when furnaces and fireplaces are at their peak use, this deadly gas is a four-season danger.

Carbon monoxide, or CO, comes from burning fossil fuels such as wood, oil, gas and propane. It is called the silent killer because it is colourless, odourless and tasteless. This means if your home or cottage has a gas or propane water heater or gas stove, or attached garage or carport, the threat of carbon monoxide never ends.

The only safe way for humans to detect its presence is with a carbon monoxide alarm.

John Gignac, a retired firefighter, lost four family members to carbon monoxide. He works year-round to educate all Canadians on its dangers, reminding everyone of the importance of having working alarms.

“Most carbon monoxide alarms cost about $40, a small price to pay for your family's safety,” he says. Here are his other safety tips:

• Have a licensed inspector check heating systems and other fuel-burning appliances, including fireplaces, every year.

• Install one CO alarm on each level of your home and outside all sleeping areas.

• Replace CO alarms every 7 to 10 years, depending on the manufacturer.

• Consider installing a CO alarm that has a continuous digital display. It will show if low levels of the gas are present, so you can address the problem before CO reaches harmful levels.