Never overlook fire and carbon monoxide safety at home

Winter is here and it sure is cold outside! At this time of year, Canadians cozy up in their homes and continue with so-called hibernation season. For greater comfort, some homeowners use their fireplace or wood-burning appliances to cook or simply heat their homes. These non-electric appliances help create an extremely welcoming atmosphere, especially around the holidays. Despite the holiday season being the most wonderful time of year, December can quickly turn dangerous if fire and carbon monoxide safety is overlooked. Many Canadian homeowners are unaware that wood-burning appliances are a serious health and safety hazard, sometimes causing carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and house fires. AmeriSpec Wood Energy Technology Transfer (WETT) Inspections provide comprehensive fire safety advice so families can keep their fireplaces burning safely this winter. AmeriSpec WETT Inspections closely adhere to the standards set out by Wood Energy Technology Transfer Inc. (WETT). This Canadian non-profit offers training and public education to promote the safe use of wood-burning appliances nationwide.

Introducing wood-burning appliances and their dangers

Every Canadian should know that there are several concerns related to the use of a wood-burning appliance or fireplace at home. A wood-burning fireplace is a luxurious statement but the thrill of having one should never be at the expense of proper fire safety. Wood stoves, wood-burning fireplaces, pellet stoves, and wood-burning furnaces not only generate harmful carbon monoxide emissions but could cause a house fire too. Many older homes in Canada that have wood-burning appliances often do not have proper clearance to combustibles. In other words, such appliances are installed too closely to flammable items within the home. This includes wood floors, furniture, or even picture frames. Wood fireplaces and stoves generate deadly carbon monoxide which can be inhaled by you and your family members. Long-term exposure to carbon monoxide emissions can make your family sick, and sometimes result in death. Carbon monoxide poisoning is often called the silent killer, as it cannot be detected by taste or smell. A carbon monoxide detector is the only way to tell if there are harmful levels of carbon monoxide in your home.

Carbon monoxide safety statistics

According to Statistics Canada, between 2015 and 2019, Canada saw 226 accidental poisonings from exposure to carbon monoxide. A simple carbon monoxide detector or proper WETT inspection could've prevented many of these deaths.

Fire and carbon monoxide safety recommendations

To ensure the safety of you and your family, homeowners should consider these recommendations:
  • Have your home fitted with at least one carbon monoxide detector
  • Commit to the proper installation and maintenance of all smoke alarms in the home, with one smoke alarm dedicated to each level of the home
  • Install a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector in each bedroom in your home for the fastest alerts possible (e.g., if you’re sleeping)
  • Replace all batteries in your home’s smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors each spring
  • Test each alarm at least once a month and ensure each device is dust-free
  • Replace all carbon monoxide and smoke detectors every 10 years

10 quick-fire and carbon monoxide facts that every Canadian should know

  1. Any fuel-burning device can produce CO under the right conditions
  2. Carbon monoxide in the home can only be detected with a carbon monoxide detector, as the gas is odourless and tasteless
  3. Non-electric appliances such as dryers, stoves, grills, furnaces, and water heaters are appliances that most commonly produce carbon monoxide emissions
  4. Symptoms from carbon monoxide poisoning often appear as flu-like and include nausea, fatigue, and dizziness
  5. Prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can result in vomiting, brain damage, and death
  6. As carbon monoxide moves through a home differently than smoke, which rises, carbon monoxide detectors can be installed at any level within a home, not just on a ceiling
  7. Canada averages about 24,000 house fires each year, resulting in an average of 377 deaths, and 3,048 injuries per year
  8. One out of 100 preventable residential fires are fatal
  9. Most house fires begin in the kitchen or can be tied to careless cigarette smoking
  10. One-third of all house fires in Canada did not have a working smoke detector

Don’t forget these fire and carbon monoxide safety tips too

Should you use wood-burning appliances to heat your home or cook, consider these safety tips:
  • Choose a low-emission stove for cooking that comes with an advanced combustion insert that is designed to reduce carbon monoxide emissions
  • Regularly clean and maintain all wood-burning appliances to ensure they work properly
  • If your home has a wood-burning fireplace, perform regular cleaning of your chimney
  • Only use wood-burning appliances that come with an EPA sticker that ensures the appliance is low emission and is as fuel-efficient as possible
  • When using your fireplace, always use dampers that ensure efficiency and reduced emissions
  • Only burn dry wood cut into small pieces. Never burn wood or plastics such as garbage or other paper that contains ink or chemicals.

Book an AmeriSpec Wood Energy Technology Transfer (WETT) Inspection

Trust the professionals at AmeriSpec to conduct a Wood Energy Technology Transfer (WETT) Inspection. Our team will inspect whether you have proper clearance to combustibles and detect both major and minor problems with wood-burning appliances. One simple inspection can ensure that your home is ready for the winter months and free from potential fire and carbon monoxide hazards. Put your family’s health and safety first this winter. Gain peace of mind knowing that you recruited AmeriSpec, Canada’s leader in home inspections.