What is Carbon Monoxide (CO)?

CO is a by-product of combustion and is produced when fuel-burning appliances don’t get enough air to burn the fuel completely. CO absorbs 200 times faster in the blood stream than normal oxygen. At high levels or during continued exposure, CO can cause suffocation, resulting in loss of consciousness, brain damage, or death.

Areas of Concern

Any indoor workplace or building with fuel burning equipment presents a potential hazard. Staff and guests in confined spaces can be exposed to CO, but this gas can also be present in large buildings, as well as well-ventilated areas. Potential sources of CO include:

  • Gas-powered engines
  • Fireplaces
  • Natural gas space heaters
  • Furnaces
  • Natural gas ovens
  • Boilers
  • Natural gas dryers

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Poor vision

If Your Alarm Activates

If your CO alarm goes off, get everybody out of the building and into fresh air. Have a plan in place to ensure that all guests and staff have been safely evacuated. Call 911 or your local emergency services. Advise emergency services of anybody that has not been accounted for. Do not go back into the building until it is safe to do so.

For further information, including Building Code regulations and preventative measures that hotels can take to ensure their guests are protected from carbon monoxide, see out Carbon Monoxide web page.

Building Code Requirements

Even though some hotels, motels, and inns may predate building code requirements for protection against carbon monoxide, it is highly encouraged that all lodgings install carbon monoxide alarms within each of its bedrooms.

The 1997 Alberta Building Code requires that carbon monoxide alarms be installed on or near the ceiling in each room where a solid-fuel burning appliance operates. A carbon monoxide alarm is not required if the solid-fuel-burning appliance has doors that close the firebox.

The 2006 Alberta Building Code contains changes that require carbon monoxide alarms be installed in a bedroom, or within five metres of the bedroom door if installed outside of a bedroom.

The Alberta Fire Code states that carbon monoxide alarms must be inspected, tested, and maintained as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

If you require further information, please contact your local authority or municipality.

Always contact the local authority having jurisdiction prior to any construction activity and ensure your project complies with the Safety Codes Act and local bylaws.

Permits and Alberta’s Safety Code System


  1. Perform an external check of your hotel to ensure that all exterior vents are clear of blockages, such as snow, ice, or debris.
  2. Have a qualified contractor perform an annual maintenance review of heating systems and other fuel-burning appliances to ensure all systems are running properly.
  3. Ensure that your business has installed carbon monoxide alarms, and that they are inspected, tested, and maintained as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

More information

Carbon monoxide facts provided by Western Financial Group.

More information available from the Government of Alberta.

Emergency Response Planning Guide.