Thunder Bay

Working CO alarms now mandatory in Ontario

A new Ontario law requires a working carbon monoxide alarm outside all sleeping areas if you have a fireplace, any fuel-burning appliance, or a garage attached to your home.

Thunder Bay Fire Rescue says detectors need to be replaced regularly

The Thunder Bay fire service is reminding people that detectors can save lives and new laws require homes to have working CO detectors on every level. (iStock)

A new Ontario law requires a working carbon monoxide alarm outside all sleeping areas if you have a fireplace, any fuel-burning appliance, or a garage attached to your home.

Anthony Stokaluk of the Thunder Bay fire service says any appliance or device that runs on fuel, including propane and wood, can produce the deadly gas.

“If you have an attached garage, and you have a vehicle in there that's running for any length of time, if there's any breach in the wall between your home and the garage, or let's say the door between your home and the garage is left open, that carbon monoxide from that running vehicle is going to fill the house,” he said.

Carbon monoxide is especially dangerous because you can't smell it, or taste it. The symptoms of poisoning are gradual, he noted.

“What's going to happen is that you're going to start to feel ill. You're going to get tired. The danger is, if you ever were sleeping, and experienced a build-up of carbon monoxide in your home, you would simply just fall asleep and not wake up.”

Thunder Bay Fire Rescue public education officer Anthony Stokaluk says carbon monoxide is especially dangerous because you can't smell it, or taste it. (Supplied by Thunder Bay Fire Rescue)

There are a variety of carbon monoxide alarms on the market, including some that are combined with smoke detectors, he said. "You can buy the ones that plug into the wall. You can buy battery-operated ones that actually install on the ceiling, similar to a smoke alarm and they actually have dual smoke and CO alarms."

Regardless of what model homeowners choose, Stokaluk warned that carbon monoxide alarms, like smoke detectors, need to be replaced regularly.

The new law, Bill 77 - The Hawkins-Gignac Act, is named in honour of a southern Ontario family.

All four family members — two parents and two children — died of CO poisoning in their home in 2008.

The law came into effect on Oct.15, and supersedes any existing municipal bylaws.

Thunder Bay Fire Rescue plans to conduct a public education and awareness program for the next six months.

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