Calgary, AB,

Calgary fire crews respond to serious carbon monoxide incident sending five to hospital

Just after 7:00 this morning, Calgary fire crews were called to a building under construction at the 600 block of 7 Avenue S.E. for reports of a possible carbon monoxide (CO) incident. On arrival, firefighters found an unconscious male in the worksite office which was located in the parkade of the building. Reports indicate that the worker may have been in the office for approximately an hour.

Firefighters immediately evacuated all employees from the job site and five of the 25 evacuees were transported by EMS to area hospitals. Fire crews assessed the building and found levels of carbon monoxide (CO) as high as 400 parts per million (ppm) in the area where the unconscious male was found. 

Fire crews commenced with ventilation to eliminate the CO in the building. A heater in the office is suspected to be the source of the CO however the cause has yet to be confirmed. Occupational Health and Safety has been called to the site to investigate the injuries sustained from this incident. 

What is CO?

CO is produced when fuels such as natural gas, gasoline, oil, propane, wood or coal are burned. The danger is magnified when the combustion is not properly ventilated, or when the CO cannot dissipate. CO can also build up to dangerous levels when fuel-burning generators, space heaters, barbecues, grills or other appliances intended for use outside or in well-ventilated spaces are brought indoors or into less-ventilated areas.

CO is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that can overcome a person quickly and interfere with the person's ability to recognize that their life is in danger.

High level carbon monoxide poisoning results in:

• Mental confusion

• Vomiting

• Loss of muscular coordination

• Loss of consciousness

• Death

Symptoms vary depending on the level of carbon monoxide and duration of exposure. Mild symptoms are sometimes mistaken for the flu. 

Installing and testing CO alarms

Calgarians are reminded to have a working CO alarms on every level of their home. Test the alarms monthly by pushing the test button and replace them when they reach their expiration date. Read the manufacturer's instructions for the care and maintenance of all CO (and smoke) alarms.

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