A law forcing most homes in Ontario to have carbon monoxide alarms is now in effect, following the end of a six month grace period.
Aside from the risk to your safety, homeowners caught without CO detectors face a pricey fine starting Wednesday thanks to Bill 77, also known as the Hawkins Gignac Act.
According to a release from the London Fire Department, the law will now be enforced in single family homes and multi-family homes with no more than six separate units starting April 15, 2015. All homes with fuel burning appliances or an attached garage must have alarms located adjacent to any sleeping area.
Landlords are also responsible for installing CO detectors in apartment suites if a fuel-burning appliance or a fireplace is present.
London’s Deputy Fire Chief Gary Bridge tells AM980 they’ve tried to educate people as best as they can on the dangers of carbon monoxide since the law was finalized last October.
“Generally, Londoners are getting the message,” said Bridge. “People are starting to get out and purchase those CO alarms, but we still continue to be in homes that don’t have them, so we’re encouraging people to get those CO alarms inside their homes.”
CO is known as the silent killer because it is an invisible, tasteless, and odourless gas that can be deadly. CO is produced when fuels such as propane, gasoline, natural gas, heating oil or wood do not burn completely in fuel-burning appliances and devices such as furnaces, gas or wood fireplaces, hot water heaters, stoves, barbeques, portable fuel-burning heaters and generators and vehicles.
Roughly 80% of poisoning deaths and injuries from carbon monoxide occur in the home and each year thousands of people in Ontario require medical attention after being exposed to CO.
“The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to flu-like symptoms, which are dizziness, fatigue, an achey feeling,” said Bridge. “Often times what happens is that when people feel CO poisoning, they actually feel that they should go to bed, which is the worst thing that can take place.”
The law was named in honour of OPP Constable Laurie Hawkins, who died from CO poisoning along with her husband and two children in their Woodstock home in 2008.
Bridge urges homeowners to act quickly if their alarm goes off.
“Leave all of the windows shut, exit the building, and call 911,” said Bridge. “The reason we ask that you leave the windows shut is because our fire suppression staff will be able to sense where the actual leak is coming from, and be able to assist you in that regard.”
Regularly servicing your fuel-burning appliances and making sure that your outside vents are not blocked are the best ways to prevent carbon monoxide inside your home. Bridge also recommends homeowners never use portable fuel-burning appliances inside, including barbeques, portable heaters, and generators.
Homeowners found to not be complying with the law face a $295 ticket.