As more Sudbury area residents head out to recreational properties this time of year, the Greater Sudbury Fire Services says failing to have a working carbon monoxide detector at camp could result in tragedy.

A public safety officer with Greater Sudbury Fire Services said carbon monoxide poisoning will present itself with flu-like symptoms and shouldn't be ignored.

Symptoms of CO poisoning

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, non-irritating gas that can inflict significant brain damage and even kill its victims.

Low levels: Headache; fatigue; shortness of breath; impaired motor functions

High levels: Nausea; dizziness; chest pain; fatigue; poor vision; difficulty thinking, confusion

Very high levels: Convulsions; loss of consciousness; coma

(Sources: Health Canada; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

"If you are feeling ill and your alarm goes off, don't take a chance, don't unplug it and say 'I'll deal with it in the morning’," Mitch Theriault said. "Call the fire department."

Theriault said last year the fire department responded to 100 calls where carbon monoxide was found in the residence.

That statistic highlights a 2008 tragedy in which a family of four from Woodstock, Ont. died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning. Richard Hawkins had turned on the fireplace in the family’s basement to warm things up a bit  — but what he didn't know was that the small exhaust vent that funnelled carbon monoxide from the gas fireplace out through the chimney was completely blocked from years of use.

Within a few short hours he died, along with his 14-year-old daughter Cassandra and 12-year-old son Jordan. His wife Laurie, who hailed from North Bay, died several days later.

Within days of the Hawkins family deaths, carbon-monoxide detectors began selling out in several cities and towns. Collections were set up to provide detectors to low-income families.

The Hawkins Gignac Act (Bill 20) — now ordered for a third reading in the Ontario legislature — was introduced to update the 1997 Fire Protection and Prevention Act. The bill would require owners of residential buildings in which a fuel-burning appliance is installed or a storage garage is located to install carbon monoxide detectors in the buildings and to maintain them in operating condition.

The bill was one of more than 100 bills left in limbo when the Ontario legislature was prorogued last fall by former Premier Dalton McGuinty.