Saskatoon Fire Department knows working CO alarms can prevent tragedy

Two incidents have prompted the Saskatoon Fire Department to remind people of the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Earlier this week, 46 people were rushed to hospital after being poisoned by CO at a Winnipeg hotel.

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The second incident involved two youth found dead at a recreational community in the Prince Albert area on July 9. Preliminary investigation indicated the 12-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl died as the result of CO poisoning, according to police.

Saskatoon firefighters respond to about 300 CO concerns annually and they account for approximately two per cent of all calls. So far this year, there have been 126.

When undetected and left untreated, carbon monoxide poisoning can result in permanent injury or even death.

CO alarms are intended to alert you to the possibility of an odourless, colourless, tasteless, and poisonous gas inside homes.

“Carbon monoxide alarms should be installed outside each sleeping area and are most effective when interconnected throughout your home,” fire Chief Morgan Hackl said in a press release.

“Test your carbon monoxide alarms monthly, changing the batteries every year or as needed, and the entire alarm should be replaced every seven years or as required.”

The fire department has these practical ways to keep homes free of CO:

  • ensure gas equipment and appliances are properly installed, maintained, and inspected by a licensed contractor;
  • keep furnace, water heater, chimney vents and pipes free of obstructions;
  • follow manufacturer directions for proper operation and care of all heating equipment and appliances;
  • only use generators, barbeques and portable propane heaters outside; and
  • never leave a vehicle or fuelled engine running indoors.

If a CO alarm is sounding or if people believe they are experiencing the effects of CO poisoning, evacuate and call 911.

Hackl said some of the symptoms include headache, fatigue, confusion, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.

Every Saskatoon fire engine responds with at least one firefighter-paramedic and comes equipped with a monitor capable of determining the parts-per-million concentration of CO present in the air.

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