Why It Is Serious

1What is Carbon Monoxide?

Freshly brewed coffee?...It smells great. A full diaper?...Yup, that’s stinky. Carbon monoxide?...There’s no smell at all. Not even a whiff. You can smell a lot of things. Carbon monoxide is not one of them. Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous gas. You can’t smell it and you can’t see it, but it can make you very sick. It can even kill you.

Carbon monoxide (sometimes known as CO) is created when appliances that burn any kind of fuel—oil, gas, wood and kerosene—aren’t ventilated properly. A lack of ventilation means that harmful amounts of carbon monoxide gas build up and are pushed out of the heating appliance and into the home. 

CO  build-up happens when a fuel-burning heating appliance has been incorrectly installed, badly repaired or poorly maintained. It can also occur if flues, chimneys or vents to the outdoors are blocked. When CO builds up, especially in a confined room or space, this presents a life-threatening situation. At high levels, carbon monoxide can kill in minutes.

Have Questions? Call Yukon Housing Corporation for assistance: (867) 667-5759 or toll free 1-800-661-0408.

2Poisoning and Symptoms

Our Yukon air is fresh—it’s something we all enjoy. But when carbon monoxide (CO) builds up indoors, that same Yukon air becomes poisonous. CO poisoning can occur when you breathe in even small amounts of the gas. When you inhale CO, it gets into your blood stream and prevents your red blood cells from carrying oxygen. Without oxygen, your body tissue and cells die.

While you can’t see CO, the effects of this poisonous gas on people are easy to see. Being aware of the symptoms of CO poisoning could save your life. Symptoms vary, depending on how much CO there is or how long you are exposed.

Symptoms may include:


Flu-like symptoms
Headache, Nausea, Dizziness

Disorienting symptoms
Breathlessness, Confusion, Hallucinations

Disabling symptoms
Collapse, Convulsions, Unconsciousness, Death


Some CO poisoning symptoms may be mistaken for other illnesses, such as the flu. To detect CO poisoning, watch for symptoms that:

  • only occur when you are at home
  • get better when you leave home and come back when you return
  • are seasonal—e.g. headaches in winter when central heating is used more often
  • are experienced by other people or pets in your household

Fetuses, infants, elderly people, and people with anemia or with a history of heart or respiratory disease can be especially susceptible to CO poisoning.


If you suspect CO poisoning:

  1. Get outside immediately
  2. Call 911 or call your local Fire Departments seven digit emergency number if outside of Whitehorse
  3. Seek immediate medical attention

Have Questions? Call Yukon Housing Corporation for assistance: (867) 667-5759 or toll free 1-800-661-0408.

3Sources of CO

To prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, you have to go to the source. All fuel-burning appliances create CO.

Sources of CO include:

  • Gas or oil-fired furnaces
  • Gas or wood stoves
  • Oil-fired boilers
  • Gas or wood fireplaces
  • Gas or oil-fired water heaters
  • Gas dryers
  • Gas barbecues
  • Portable generators
  • Fuel-burning space heaters

In a home, the most common CO source is the fuel-burning heating appliance that keeps your home nice and cozy in the winter months. That’s why home heating systems are designed to continuously vent CO (and other gases created during the burning process) outside. CO levels can increase to unhealthy levels when fuel-burning heating appliances aren’t properly installed, repaired or maintained. Poor ventilation contributes to CO build-up in homes, because the gas cannot vent outside.

Be aware
  • CO can become a problem in any space heated by a fuel-burning appliance: your furnace room, garage, cabin, wall tent, RV, boat, cabin or camper can fill up very quickly with enough CO to cause severe, long-term injury or death.
  • Snowmobiles and vehicles running inside an attached garage or near a home’s fresh air intake can significantly increase carbon monoxide levels.

Have Questions? Call Yukon Housing Corporation for assistance: (867) 667-5759 or toll free 1-800-661-0408.

4Detectors are the law

Homeowners, Landlords, Tenants… Did You Know?

Yukon law requires all Yukon residences with a fuel-burning device or an attached garage to have carbon monoxide detectors.

CO detectors increase your chances of detecting dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in your home. However, you shouldn’t rely on a CO detector to replace the good maintenance, repair and installation of your fuel-burning appliance. 

Have Questions? Call Yukon Housing Corporation for assistance: (867) 667-5759 or toll free 1-800-661-0408.