Calgary fire crews respond to dangerous carbon monoxide incident in north west
At approximately 12:15 on the afternoon of Friday, January 12th, a CO (carbon monoxide) alarm activated in one of the suites of a multi family residential building located at the 6800 block of Centre Street N.W. A resident then called 9-1-1 to report the alarm. When fire crews arrived, they found CO levels of up to 1000 parts per million. At this high level of continuous CO exposure, death can occur in about an hour, depending on the age, size and health condition of those exposed.
The whole building was quickly evacuated, temporarily displacing over 30 residents. The residents were initially sheltered at the neighbouring fire station and then relocated to a Calgary Transit bus. ATCO was called to the scene and fire crews checked all units for any possible patients who were unable to evacuate or had possibly succumbed to the poisonous CO gas. Two adults and two children were transported to hospital by EMS.
The investigation by ATCO and fire crews found that the build-up of CO was due to a blocked fresh air intake. Firefighters started ventilating the building to bring the CO levels to zero. Once the building is deemed safe again by fire crews, residents will be allowed back in.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that has no colour, smell, or taste. Long-term exposure can cause sickness or lead to death. The Calgary Fire Department wants you to have working CO alarms in your home, to warn you in case of exposure.
If you are exposed to CO gas, you may get flu-like symptoms such as:
- lose consciousness.
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 you should monitor any household appliances which run on fossil fuels, like natural gas and propane.
- Every year check all the fuel-burning appliances in your house; make sure they are working properly and used properly.
- Make sure fuel-burning appliances, chimneys and vents are cleaned and inspected by professionals every year before you start to use them, usually when the weather gets cold.
- Never use the stove or oven to heat your home.
- Make sure to open the flue of your fireplace before you use it.
- Never run a car, vehicle or other motor inside a garage, even if the garage door is open.
- Always drive your car or vehicle out of the garage right after starting it.
- Test you alarms monthly.
- Know the expiry date and replace alarms promptly.
- Place alarms near or inside your sleeping area .
- Make sure your vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, fireplace and other fuel-burning appliances are always clear of snow and other debris.
- Only use gas and charcoal barbeques outdoors, away from all doors, windows, vents and other building openings. Never use barbeques inside a garage, even if the garage door is open.
- Only use portable fuel-burning generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from windows, doors, vents and other building openings.
- Make sure portable fuel-burning heaters are vented properly, according to their instructions.
- Check the outside and inside walls of your house for cracks, holes, separations, and check for rust, stains or carbon deposits on heating ducts or pipes.
- Check the flame on fuel-burning appliances – it should be clear blue with occasional yellow tips.
ATCO has a CO checklist available online which is available in 10 different languages (in addition to English) and can be found here: https://gas.atco.com/en-ca/safety/carbon-monoxide.html
For more information on carbon monoxide and CO alarms that can save your life, please visit calgary.ca/fire