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Carbon monoxide safety gets a national focus
The retired Ontario firefighter who lost his niece, her husband and their two children in a horrific carbon monoxide accident is pledging to once again take his safety crusade on the road.
John Gignac, who co-founded the Hawkins-Gignac Foundation for CO Education in 2009 to honour the memory of his family members, cites achievements in 2013 as having re-energized his desire to spread the word.
"Last year both the Yukon and Ontario governments passed laws to make CO alarms mandatory in homes with gas-fired appliances, wood and gas fireplaces, as well as attached garages and carports," says Gignac. "That's a fantastic step forward in preventing carbon monoxide deaths and injuries. But laws or no laws, it is education and awareness that are required in every city and town in every province. And so I will be doing my best to warn all Canadians about this silent killer."
Carbon monoxide is called the silent killer because humans cannot smell, taste or see it. It can come from everyday heating systems and appliances that use gas as a source of fuel and if devices are not working properly, or venting is cracked or blocked, CO can seep back into a home with devastating results.
My niece and her family did not have a CO alarm when carbon monoxide from their gas fireplace came back into their house because of a blocked chimney vent, Gignac tells us. "So my message to others is: have your systems checked each year by a licensed technician; make yourself aware of the sources and symptoms of CO poisoning; and above all else, install a CSA-approved CO alarm outside your bedrooms.
More information about this topic is available at www.endthesilence.ca.
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