Politician, safety advocate and alarm manufacturer unite to urge homeowners to increase carbon monoxide vigilance following deaths in Newcastle and spike in CO calls

Carbon monoxide alarms, on average, cost $30 and are now required by law in all Ontario homes. (CNW Group/The Hawkins-Gignac Foundation for CO Education)

TORONTO, Dec. 24, 2013 /CNW/ - An Ontario MPP, a former firefighter whose family experienced a similar tragedy and a leading safety company are collectively expressing shock and sadness following two carbon monoxide deaths caused by a gas generator being used to provide electricity to heat a home in Newcastle.

Ernie Hardeman, MPP for Oxford said, "The extreme weather across the province calls for increased vigilance.  People need to remember that carbon monoxide can occur any time gas, wood, charcoal or other fuel sources are burned."

John Gignac, a retired firefighter and co-founder of the Hawkins-Gignac Foundation for CO Education said, "The greatest carbon monoxide threats under these circumstances are: warming up your car in an attached garage; using a gas generator to provide electricity; and, using a barbecue, gas stove or other ad hoc means to provide heat."

Carol Heller, a home safety expert with leading smoke and carbon monoxide alarm manufacturer Kidde Canada said, "Carbon monoxide is colourless, odorless and tasteless so unless you have a CSA-approved CO alarm you won't even know it's present.  Many carbon monoxide accidents are preventable."

Mr. Hardeman became a champion for carbon monoxide safety following the tragedy that took the lives of four of Mr. Gignac's family members in Woodstock in December 2008.  Mr. Gignac's niece Laurie Hawkins, an OPP constable, perished along with her husband Richard and their two children Cassandra and Jordan when carbon monoxide from their gas fireplace seeped back into their home because of a blocked chimney.  They did not have a carbon monoxide alarm.

Mr. Hardeman's Private Member's Bill - the Hawkins-Gignac Act - called for carbon monoxide alarms to be mandatory in all Ontario homes with fuel-fired appliances or attached garages or carports.  It passed into law on November 27, 2013.

Following his family's accident, Mr. Gignac now spends his time warning people of the dangers of carbon monoxide and urging them to protect themselves with a carbon monoxide alarm.

Ms. Heller and Kidde Canada have been active supporters of both Mr. Hardeman and the Gignac Foundation with CO alarm donations and other resources.

The Hawkins-Gignac Foundation offers these cold-weather carbon monoxide safety tips:

  • Have a licensed inspector check heating systems and all fuel-burning appliances, including fireplaces, every year.
  • Install one CSA-approved CO alarm on each storey of your home and outside all sleeping areas.
  • Check to ensure all outside exhaust flues and vents are clear of snow.
  • Never run a generator or vehicle indoors or in an attached carport or garage even if the door is open.
  • Never use barbecues, gas stoves or other devices to provide heat.
  • Keep CO alarms current:  Replace them every 7-10 years depending on the brand, whether battery operated or hardwired.

"Most CO alarms cost around $30.  That's a small price to pay for your family's safety," Gignac added.

For more carbon monoxide safety tips, visit www.endthesilence.ca

SOURCE The Hawkins-Gignac Foundation for CO Education

Image with caption: "Carbon monoxide alarms, on average, cost $30 and are now required by law in all Ontario homes. (CNW Group/The Hawkins-Gignac Foundation for CO Education)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20131224_C6639_PHOTO_EN_35244.jpg

For further information:

For Ernie Hardeman, contact Tara Barry: 416-917-6834 or tara.barry@pc.ola.org

For John Gignac, contact 905.755.1615

For Carol Heller, contact Pat Folliott: 416.879.2224 or pfolliott@realityclick.com