The alarms hard-wired into your building’s fire system are to detect smoke and heat. They do not detect carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas so you are unaware of its existence in your environment. It kills. More than 50 people die each year from CO poisoning in Canada and many more are treated in hospital. Survivors of CO poisoning may suffer permanent brain damage.
CO detectors are available in many forms. The cheapest models plug into a wall socket, but also have a battery backup. Portable models are more expensive, but you can take them with you when you travel. A variety of detectors are available at most hardware and building centres such as Rona, Canadian Tire or Home Depot. They vary in price from about $30 to over $100. It is advisable to have at least one CSA-6.19.01 approved CO detector outside bedroom areas, but have one on each level of your unit. If you already have one, test it and check its expiry date. Detectors manufactured before 2008 will NOT meet the new CSA standard. Batteries should be renewed annually unless they are lithium-ion which have a 10-year life expectancy. An annual inspection of your appliances by a qualified technician is also a good idea.
Exposure to carbon monoxide reduces a person’s ability to think clearly so remember, if the alarm sounds, get everyone out of the suite to a safe place and then call 911.