12 Residents Alerted to Danger in Their Home by CO Alarm
Shortly before 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 8th, 12 residents of a small bungalow on Marcombe Drive North East were alerted to a very dangerous situation in their home. The combination alarm (smoke and carbon monoxide) in their home started beeping and because they could find no evidence of smoke or fire, they called 9-1-1 for help.
When fire crews arrived on scene, they discovered initial carbon monoxide (CO) readings of 130 parts per million (ppm) which then climbed up to 160 ppm. The 12 residents (four adults and eight children including an infant) had safely evacuated with the help of the fire crews. Firefighters determined that the source of the CO was the furnace and therefore shut the furnace down and called ATCO to respond to the scene. Fire crews ventilated the house and waited for ATCO to arrive. EMS assessed everyone and nobody was transported to the hospital.
Carbon Monoxide is a poisonous gas that you cannot see, smell or taste and thus is called the silent killer. Working CO alarms provide the only warning of dangerous CO gases in your home. Most commonly, the main source of CO gas in your home is your furnace, but CO can come from any natural gas burning household appliances, wood burning fireplaces or vehicles left running/idling in an attached garage.
A person can be poisoned by a small amount of CO over a longer period of time or by a large amount of CO over a shorter time frame. If you are exposed to CO gas, you may get flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea and dizziness, as well as become confused, tired and lose consciousness. If you or anyone near you experiences the symptoms of CO poisoning or your CO alarm activates, you should leave your residence or building and call 9-1-1. Do not go back inside until the Fire Department tells you it is safe to do so.
Had the homeowner/landlord in this incident not ensured that there were working smoke/carbon monoxide alarms in this home, the outcome of this emergency incident could have been very different with a potentially tragic outcome. Fortunately in this case, the house had working smoke/CO alarms and the residents knew to call 9-1-1 when their alarm activated. For houses that are rented out to tenants, it is the landlord who is responsible for ensuring that working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are installed. It is the tenants' responsibility to maintain them which means testing the alarms monthly and changing the batteries if required as some alarms come with lithium batteries that have a 10 year life span.
For more safety information, please visit calgary.ca/fire