Updated Thu. Dec. 6 2007 9:34 AM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
An elderly Calgary couple has died and nine other people – eight emergency personnel and the couple’s adult son – were taken to hospital due to carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a car left running in the couple’s garage.
The toxic fumes filled the couple’s Varsity Acres home, located in northwest Calgary, late Wednesday afternoon.
Emergency crews responded to a call of a man suffering from an apparent heart attack around 5:30 p.m.
“The son who had made the call into 911 then asked about where his mother was as well. When emergency workers found that the mother was also in the house, also in cardiac arrest, they evacuated the building,” Emergency Medical Services spokesperson Paul Lapointe told CTV Calgary.
By the time EMS workers realized the potential cause of the couple’s emergency they had already been exposed.
“Both the fire department, three fire personnel, and also one paramedic started to develop symptoms so we responded with additional units,” Lapointe said Wednesday night.
In total, 11 people were affected by the odourless fumes including four firefighters, two paramedics and two Calgary police officers, along with the residents of the home and their son.
“I did see one EMS person, he was pretty shaken up. He was sitting down and the other EMS were attending to him,” neighbour Cody Reid told CTV Calgary.
Police confirmed the couple died due to a car left running in a garage attached to the home and that the deaths were accidental.
The identity of the elderly couple has not been released.
Lapointe said the incident was a “trying time” for emergency workers. Emergency crews credited their training for the quick detection of carbon-monoxide symptoms.
“It is the nature of our job, of course everything is a what if,” Calgary firefighter Jeff Budai said.
“Of course when we go to a scene and we find someone unconscious, our number one priority is to try and get them taken care of. Under this circumstance it was a great call by the captain to notice that there was some unusual behaviour in the house,” Budai said.
All emergency personnel and the couple’s adult son are expected to make a full recovery.
Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include confusion, headache, nausea and fatigue. Symptoms are often mistaken for the flu because the potentially deadly gas goes undetected in a home.
Carbon monoxide blocks the absorption of oxygen into the bloodstream from the lungs and poisons the red blood cells so they cannot carry oxygen. If body tissues do not receive a constant supply of oxygen, they stop functioning.
Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of fatal poisonings in North America, according to the Canada Safety Council
Good post Roy!!
I see homeowners removing the self closer quite frequently. All we can do is recommend and inform our clients of the possible dangers,what they do with this information is totally up to the individual.
Thanx Roy, just did a home that had a garage added in the early 80’s, no closer on the door and the the door had a glass window, basement window, washroom window and a bedroom window in the garage too, Sooo I was thinking that just maybe they did not have a permit and for sure it was not completed, it is what it is!! I will send this article to the agent.
As a past City of Calgary and City of Red Deer firefighter, I have seen this on numerous occassions. I continually advocate the purchase of a QUALITY CO detector for all homes especially those with attached garages. I also check for any firewalls as properly sealed as well as all other fire/gas transmission situations.
One thing that should also be looked at are the old gravity feed furnace units. Mostly in old VA homes that have grates only in the upper levels of the home to transfer heat to the upper levels. Many years ago, a father was putting glue down on the counter to apply the arborite when it was ignited by the gas stoves from the fumes. Needless to say, he called the fire department, they responded and by the time they got there, the fire was out. The fire dept. cleared the area with fans and left. The next day, the father and mother went to wake the kids for school and they were dead. Smoke inhalation.
Safety for our clients is utmost and must try to give them as much info as possible on this type of occurrance.
Elderly and children are most susceptable to CO issues but, all should be protected.
I think that from now forward, after hearing of this happening here in Calgary, I will be giving CO detectors rather then discounts for promotional options.
Thanks again Roy for the post. Brings us all back to reality.
Point of clarification - it is the "law’ in new homes. This requirement has been in existence in national and provincial building codes for at least a decade or more in Canada. However, I have yet to see anything to date making this retroactive. Certainly it makes “common sense” - but even recommending it does not always sit well with some realtors and vendors. But it should not stop us from recommending caution in this area to our clients.
[FONT=Arial]NBC & OBC Article 126.96.36.199. Doors Between Garages and Dwelling Units indicates:
**(1) **A door between an attached or built-in garage and a *dwelling unit *shall be tight-fitting and weatherstripped to provide an effective barrier against the passage of gases and exhaust fumes and shall be fitted with a self-closing device.
**(2) **A doorway between an attached or built-in garage and a *dwelling unit *shall not be located in a room intended for sleeping.
Like Mario, all I suggest is that home inspectors strongly emphasize and recommend the above; for safety of the occupants, because we do not have the legal authority to demand that these safety precautions are mandated. [/FONT]
The unfortunate part of (" recommending it does not always sit well with some Realtors and vendors ") is that some Inspectors say these things and work for the Realtors.
This is wrong we should all understand the purchaser is the one we should only be concerned about.
I have been black balled by some who could not intimidate me and I expect some day this will back fire and all agents will then see the advantage of a good Home Inspector .
Not the one who candy coats thee inspection and charges less.
I care less about code I do care about protecting people and my self.
Mr Roy, you are so correct.
The other day a broker called me to ask me to tone down my inspections. I had looked at two listings that were his and the buyers walked.
I told him I was saving us both money. I told home no one was going to sue us as they had all the info they need. I reminded him (he has seen me in action before, so he does know how I work) that I inform the client fully , but do not scare them. I said they need to know as much as possible, and would not alter my reports for anyone. He was po’d at me, and hung up.
One week later two different people called me to boook inspections. They said that broker referred me to them and told them they “will get the best inspection they could ever get, and all the information they need”.
I think he got the point.
My earlier point speaks for itself - I agree with your take.
Now let’s view it from the vendors perspective - could the inspector be sued for a recommendation opposed to mandating that it be done?
Certainly this and a number of other issues are good examples of why municipal inspectors often do not like home inspectors particularly with regards to building code application. Are we there (as a home inspector) to interpret and enforce building code?
We all know frivolous law suits happen so yes I can be sued for what ever???
. If Municipal Inspectors have trouble with my inspection I am sorry for them .
They have got them selves to blame for their difficulties not me.
To try and transfer there difficulties to me sorry Not my baby.
They have about 15 minutes to inspect a home and write a report if they continue to work under those restrictions it is wrong and should not be tolerated .
I get paid well to do a good inspection. 3~ hours.