The Lloydminster Fire Department, in connection to the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association’s (AFCA) province-wide campaign,  is encouraging residents and business owners to test their carbon monoxide detectors.

The campaign is bringing attention to carbon monoxide poisoning and regular alarm testing. The invisible, odourless gas is undetectable without an alarm and so regular testing is important. Testing an alarm can take less than 30 seconds.

According to the AFCA, the risk of CO poisoning increases during the winter when homes are sealed to conserve heat and fuel-burning appliances are used more often. Other potential sources are fireplaces, furnaces, gas space heaters and vehicle exhaust.

Acting Fire Chief Bill Heesing says the department has responded to about 30 CO alarm or gas calls in the past year. He says there are two levels of carbon monoxide poisoning.

“A low-level exposure will give you flu-like symptoms [such as] nausea, dizziness, muscle aches and weakness. A high-level exposure will be abdominal pain, impaired vision and food poisoning like symptoms. It’s important to know and recognize the signs and symptoms of CO poisoning.”

Prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to death. Heesing says people who may be exposed to carbon monoxide should evacuate the building immediately and seek medical attention.

“Call 9-1-1. Get medical attention and if you are able to go to the nearest hospital or health clinic and get checked out.”

People should not re-enter the building until it has been cleared by an emergency worker. The Lloydminster Fire Department has a voluntary home inspection program to test alarms and perform safety walkthroughs for those worried about possible fire safety hazards in their home.

“We will encourage any residents if they have any questions whether it’s smoke detectors or CO detectors, we are more than happy to help them out and answer any questions they have.”

The AFCA conducted an online survey and found 70 per cent of Albertans have a CO alarm installed in their home but less than half regularly test them.