CO alarm warns Collingwood woman of potentially deadly furnace leak

A Collingwood resident is hoping her close call with carbon monoxide will encourage others to check their alarms. 

Sharon Bailey’s combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector sounded an alarm on Valentine’s Day. 

“Not being familiar with the ‘silent killer, I had no idea what to do,” she said. A friend advised her to call 911 and opened the doors in her house. 

Firefighters from the Collingwood Fire Department arrived shortly after she called in the alarm and investigated while Bailey waited outside. 

“Sure enough there was carbon monoxide readings above normal,” she said. “The problem was a leak in the furnace.” 

She is grateful there was a working alarm in place to alert her, and others in her household, of the danger. 

“I didn’t realize how important it is until this happened,” she said in an email. “It’s your life and I don’t think anyone considers it until something like that happens.” 

She’s reminding others to check the batteries and test their smoke/carbon monoxide alarm, and also to ‘thank a firefighter.” 

Collingwood’s Deputy Fire Chief Dan Thurman echoed her reminder and added some of his own. 

In the winter, snow and ice build up can block exhaust vents and your gas meter. He reminded residents to clear the snow and ice away from all exhausts and from your gas meter. 

“If they’re blocked, it stops the gas from escaping,” said Thurman. 

A carbon monoxide detector is required by law in any home with an attached garage and/or any natural gas appliances. 

Most new homes have alarms installed, but it’s important to check the expiration date and make sure there are fresh, working batteries in the alarm at least twice a year. 

“People forget to replace or check the battery,” said Thurman. “You never think about it until you really need something.” 

According to the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs more than 50 Canadians (about 11 people from Ontario) die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning and hundreds are hospitalized and permanently disabled from exposure to the poisonous gas.

It is colourless, odourless and tasteless, necessitating a detector and alarm system to sense elevated levels in the home. 

For more information on carbon monoxide in your home and installing detectors properly, visit the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs website here.

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