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Carbon monoxide detected in Toronto home

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Wednesday, November 25, 2015, 4:11 PM - A two-year-old child and two parents were rushed to a Toronto-area hospital early Wednesday morning after a faulty furnace caused carbon monoxide (CO) to leak inside the family's home.

Police were called to the Etobicoke home around 2 a.m. after family members reported feeling ill.

The mother and child were unconscious by the time an ambulance arrived but regained consciousness once outside.

First responders say the furnace was leaking CO levels close to 900 million parts per million, far higher than the normal level of about 25 parts per million.

Police told reporters the family had unplugged their carbon monoxide detector because they thought it was defective after a false alarm.

All three are expected to recover.

What is carbon monoxide?

CO is a poisonous gas found in fumes created by burning fuel in vehicles, stoves, lanterns, fireplaces and furnaces, among other things. It is a colourless and odourless and can build up indoors and in poorly-ventilated areas, poisoning the people and animals who inhale it.

CO poisoning

According to the Center for Disease Control in the U.S., symptoms of CO poisoning include:
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pains
  • Confusion

Preventing CO poisoning

  • One of the best ways to prevent CO poisoning is to install a CO detector in your home. Check or replace the battery when you change your clocks in the spring and in the fall.
  • Have your furnace, water heater and all other coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified professional annually.
  • Avoid using chemical heaters indoors.
  • Never burn charcoal or use a portable camp stove indoors.
  • Avoid using generators in your home.
  • Make sure gas appliances are well-vented.

According to Statistics Canada, there were 380 accidental deaths relating to CO in Canada between 2000 and 2009. In the U.S., CO poisoning leads to 20,000 emergency room visits a year, with more than 400 deaths annually.
Sources: CBC | CDC

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