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CO detectors will help battle Silent Killer

Prince Edward Hastings MPP Todd Smith and Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman with Matt Hiraishi of the Insurance Bureau of Canada and PEC Fire Chief Scott Manlow at the presentation of carbon monoxide detectors.

Prince Edward Hastings MPP Todd Smith and Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman with Matt Hiraishi of the Insurance Bureau of Canada and PEC Fire Chief Scott Manlow at the presentation of carbon monoxide detectors.

Prince Edward-Hastings MPP Todd Smith and Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman delivered a donation of carbon monoxide (CO) detectors to the Prince Edward County Fire Department, at the Rossmore station, to mark the first Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week.

Carbon Monoxide is called the “silent killer” because it is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, toxic gas.

Hardeman’s private member’s bill, the Hawkins-Gignac Act was passed last year and mandates carbon monoxide detectors for every level of a home. MPPs across Ontario made donations to the fire departments in honour of the first CO awareness week.

The bill was named after OPP Const. Laurie (Gignac) Hawkins, whose family of four died from carbon monoxide poisoning in their Woodstock home. Hawkins was a community services officer known to schoolchildren across her service area, while her husband Richard was well-known through his service to minor hockey.

Though it took about five years to get the bill passed, Hardeman said the process helped make people more aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide in their homes and how important it is to have detectors.

“The Insurance Bureau of Canada has been graciously supplying all these detectors around the province. What we’re doing here is providing some detectors to the fire departments for when they start enforcing the rules for everybody to have one. If they get to a place where the cost might be prohibitive for people to get detectors, or if there is a disagreement between the tenant and the landlord, the fire department will have these to give out,” said Hardeman. “It’s a way to help them build awareness. It is the law today to have them, but there will be no charges laid for the next six months – until April 1, 2015.”

The average cost of a detector runs between $30 and $60. The brand does not matter as long as it is an approved unit.

“You must have a detector to know there’s carbon monoxide. The only other time we find out is when it’s too late. You can’t taste it, you can’t see it, you can’t smell it,” said Hardeman. “On average, 11 people die of CO poisoning every year in Ontario. And most of those, if they had the detector, they would not have died.”

“It is a valuable tool,” said Scott Manlow, the County’s fire chief. “This is a silent killer, as Ernie said. We will also be partnering with others, such as the Fire Mutual Aid, to help make them available to families in need. If the public has questions about them, they can contact our office at 476-2345.”


Carbon Monoxide is produced when carbon-based fuels are incompletely burned when using wood, propane, natural gas, heating oil, coal, kerosene, charcoal or gasoline. Wood burning/gas stoves, gas refrigerators, gasoline engines, kerosene heaters and others are the main sources in a home.

Some warning signs of a leak:
Headache, nausea, burning eyes, fainting, confusion, drowsiness.
Often mistaken for common ailments like the flu
Symptoms improve when away from the home for a period of time
Symptoms experienced by more than one member of the household.
Continued exposure to higher levels may result in unconscious, brain damage and death.
The elderly, children and people with heart or respiratory conditions may be particularly sensitive to carbon monoxide.

Air feels stale/stuffy
Excessive moisture on windows or walls
Sharp penetrating odour or smell of gas when furnace or other fuel burning appliance turns on.
Burning and pilot light flames are yellow/orange, not blue
Pilot light on the furnace or water heater goes out
Chalky white powder or soot build up occurs around exhaust vent or chimney.

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