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Family recovering after near-fatal carbon monoxide poisoning

Leeanna McLean
Digital Reporter

Saturday, December 23, 2017, 6:37 PM - A mother and daughter from Kitchener, Ont., reacted quickly early Friday morning after discovering their family members were unconscious.

It was around 3 a.m. Friday when Alicia Mighton and her mother returned home after spending the night out, CTV reports.

After discovering that her little sister and father were unresponsive she called 911. Mighton used her training in first aid until paramedics arrived.

"I tried doing a a sternum rub on both and put them in the recovery position," she told the news agency.

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The Kitchener resident was able to revive the family cat through CPR.

Mighton's sister Alison Lewis told CTV "it was a very scary experience," waking up in the back of an ambulance.

The entire family was sent to hospital. While the mother and two daughters were discharged, the father is still recovering.

"They said if my sister and mom waited five more minutes (to come home), he would've been dead," Lewis told CTV.

It was determined that exhaust fumes from a backup generator in the garage entered the home after there had been a power outage Thursday night, the news agency reports.

While the family had a carbon monoxide detector, it was not functioning properly.

"We decided that it was a pretty good miracle that we actually ended up going out that night and not all four of us went to sleep and never woke up," Mighton told CTV.

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that is colourless and odourless. It can build up indoors and poorly-ventilated areas. While it can be present in your home at any time of the year, the risk is greater in winter months because homes in Canada are usually heated by furnaces, wood stoves, water heaters, boilers and other appliances that run on fuels.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

(Courtesy of Health Canada)

At low levels, effects include flu-like symptoms, such as:

  • Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Impaired motor functions, such as:
  • Muscle weakness
  • Partial or total loss of function of a body part (limb or limbs)

At high levels, or if you are exposed to low levels for long periods of time, you can experience:

  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Poor vision
  • Difficulty thinking

At very high levels, it can cause:

  • Convulsions
  • Coma
  • Death

If your carbon monoxide alarm sounds

  • Do not try to locate the source of carbon monoxide
  • Leave your home immediately and move to fresh air
  • Once outside, call 911, your fire department or emergency services
  • Return to your home only after the problem has been fixed by a professional

Inspecting CO alarms

Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning with general maintenance. Check appliances for:

  • Leaks
  • Cracks
  • Blocked vents
  • Improper installations

Poor connections of gas lines to:

  • Appliances
  • Vents
  • Breaks or tears in connection tubes
  • Corroded or disconnected venting pipes

Inspect exhaust vents during and after a snowstorm to make sure they are not covered with snow. Do this for your:

  • Dryer
  • Furnace
  • Fireplace and chimney
  • Heat recovery ventilator
  • Wood-burning or gas stove

WATCH BELOW: While changing your clocks, it's a good time to check your smoke alarm

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