FREDERICTON (GNB) – This holiday season, and throughout the winter, New Brunswickers are reminded to be aware of the threat posed by carbon monoxide.

“Carbon monoxide poisonings occur every year in Canada, and, sadly, we have had a number of recent cases right here in New Brunswick,” said acting fire marshal Michael Lewis. “The only way to keep you and your family safe is to install a carbon monoxide alarm in your home.”

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said exposure to carbon monoxide can be fatal.

“Because carbon monoxide has no taste, no odour, no colour, and does not irritate the nose, eyes or throat, it poses a serious threat, particularly while people are asleep,” said Russell. “Breathing in carbon monoxide reduces your body's ability to carry oxygen in your blood, and, even when it is not fatal, exposure can have serious long-term effects, including on the brain, heart and fetus for expecting mothers.”

Russell said there are a number of possible signs that someone is suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning: dull headache, weakness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, shortness of breath, confusion, blurred vision and loss of consciousness.

Lewis offered the following tips to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Never use generators indoors, including inside a garage or other enclosed or partially enclosed area.
  • Do not operate a generator in a location where exhaust may be able to enter through doors or windows, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Never use gas-powered machines, such as trimmers, lawnmowers or snowblowers, in the garage.
  • Never use a barbecue, camping stove or propane heater inside the house or garage, even if windows or doors are open.
  • Use a battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm at home.
  • Prevent indoor smoking.
  • Keep the door between the house and the garage closed.
  • Do not idle vehicles in the garage, even when the garage door is open.
  • Never use kerosene or oil space heaters and lamps in enclosed areas unless they are specifically designed for indoor use.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur quickly. If you think you or a loved one have been affected by carbon monoxide, go outside immediately and then go to the nearest hospital or call 911.