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Carbon Monoxide Detectors Now Mandatory In Ontario Homes

April 17, 2015

Carbon Monoxide Detectors Now Mandatory In Ontario HomesYour six months is up. Back on October 15, 2014 a law was passed that required homeowners to purchase and install carbon monoxide detectors within six months.

Carbon monoxide is known as the “silent killer” because it is colourless, odourless, and tasteless making it impossible to detect without a working carbon monoxide detector or alarm. It kills more than 50 people each year on average in Canada, including an average of 11 in Ontario. The law, also known as the Hawkins-Gignac Act, is named after a Woodstock family that died from CO poisoning in December 2008.

“We are solaced knowing that something good has come from something so tragic, that the loss in our family is not in vain,” said John Gignac back in October. As the uncle of Laurie Hawkins who died in the accident along with her husband Richard and their two children, Cassie and Jordan, the retired firefighter founded the Hawkins-Gignac Foundation for CO Education and worked to have CO detectors made mandatory.

Gignac says his family’s tragedy could have been avoided if they had a CO detector in their home.

Does Your Home Need A Carbon Monoxide Detector?

Yes. Any home that has a fuel-burning appliance, or an attached garage, needs to have a CO detector. What’s a fuel-burning appliance? Fuel-burning appliances can include your furnace, space heaters, water heater, kitchen stove or grill, wood stove, dryer and fireplaces (wood or gas). The Ontario Fire Marshall estimates that many Ontario homes have four to six fuel-burning devices that produce carbon monoxide.

How CO Alarms Work: Infographic from endthesilence.ca

Infographic featured at EndTheSilence.ca

Carbon Monoxide Detectors In The Home

Carbon monoxide detectors are required outside all sleeping areas, but it’s typically recommended that you have one on each floor. Detectors must be CSA-approved and should be replaced every 7-10 years depending on the brand. Just like smoke detectors, they should be tested once a month to ensure they’re working by pressing a button typically located on the front or side of the alarm.

  • Unlike smoke detectors that should be installed on the ceiling because smoke rises, CO detectors can be installed at any height. But, if you buy a combo CO/smoke detector make sure you install it according to the manufacturer’s directions so that it will detect smoke effectively.

The Hawkins-Gignac Foundation for CO Education offer the following CO safety tips:

  • Install at least one CSA-approved CO detector outside bedrooms, though it’s recommended that you install one on each floor
  • Check the expiry date of existing alarms and replace any devices built before 2008
  • Have a licensed technician inspect fuel burning appliances such as furnaces, fireplaces and water heaters annually
  • Help older relatives inspect their detectors
  • Replace batteries annually, or opt for models with a 10-year sealed lithium batteries that don’t need to be changed
  • When a detector sounds, get everyone out of the house quickly and call 911. Do not delay this process as CO reduces a person’s ability to think clearly.

Failing to comply with the CO alarm requirements could result in a hefty fine: up to $50,000 for individuals or $100,000 for corporations.

  • Navaid Mufti

    The picture being shown is completely incorrect. A CO detector above the kids head would result in the child dying before the alarm went off. A CO alarm should always be installed as close to the floor as possible and on the ground floor of your home. CO is a heavy gas and rises upwards so having a CO detector outside your bedroom on the second floor is useless as by the time that alarm sounds your stairs and the entire of your first floor will be filled with CO – any attempt to exit your home via that route would render you unconscious in a matter of seconds. So move your CO detector to the ground floor and if you wish to the basement as well and immediately exit your home if either goes off.

  • YetAnotherVoice

    @navaidmufti:disqus : In fact, carbon monoxide (CO) detectors can be placed at any height since CO is about the same weight as air and diffuses evenly in any given room (source: The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, http://www.oafc.on.ca/carbon-monoxide).