December 15, 2019

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Firefighter calls for carbon monoxide detectors in every home

Dreamstime</p><p>Homeowners should be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide.</p>

Dreamstime

Homeowners should be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide.

It’s time for Manitoba to require carbon monoxide detectors in every home, a former Ontario firefighter says.

While there was a detector at the Super 8 hotel when up to 385 parts per million of carbon monoxide spread through the building Tuesday morning, John Gignac is worried it got so high — 10 times safe levels. More information is expected today about what caused the incident. Fifteen people were initially in critical condition after the leak, but it appears everyone will pull through, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said.

"It should be a warning to them that they need to crack down and make a law for the whole province," Gignac said.

Gignac, who’s the executive director of the Hawkins-Gignac Foundation for CO Education, said he’s glad everyone is OK but warns of possible long-term effects like speech impairments, loss of memory of loss of senses.

"There is long-term effects for sure," Gignac said.

"They did have a detection system there and basically it prevented people from dying from carbon monoxide, so that’s the good side of it."

Since 2011, new builds and public buildings in Manitoba are required to have carbon monoxide detectors — including hotels, which must be inspected every three years.

After Gignac’s niece died of carbon monoxide poisoning, the former firefighter decided to dedicate his retirement to pushing for more detectors.

Ontario made them mandatory in 2015, and polling suggests 80 to 85 per cent of Ontarians have a detector installed. It’s also mandatory in Yukon.

"If they had laws in place, it would take care of that. The only way that you’ll ever know that carbon monoxide is in your home, your workplace, your hotel … is with CO alarms in place."

He notes a detector costs around $40 and can last 10 years.

He said people do need to learn more about taking care of their carbon monoxide detectors — reading the information that comes with it, installing the right one, and marking down the date when it’s time to replace it.

"I think if it’s working that well in Ontario, every province should have the same law as Ontario, so we can protect all our citizens."

tvanderhart@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @tessavanderhart

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