FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Enforcement Date Arrives for Ontario’s New Mandatory CO Alarm Law
Education, not penalties, most important aspect of new CO alarm law says former firefighter who lost four family members to the Silent Killer
April 13, 2015, Brantford, ON – The former firefighter whose family members died in a tragic carbon monoxide incident in 2008 says that education — not penalities and fines — should be the focus if Ontario lives are to be saved.
“I lost my niece Laurie Hawkins and her entire family to CO poisoning back in 2008. They did not have a CO alarm. I wish I could turn back the clock to protect them but I can’t,” says John Gignac, co-chair of the Hawkins-Gignac Foundation for CO Education. “This new law is a major milestone to ensure that our tragedy is not repeated again in this province.”
The new law was named “The Hawkins-Gignac Act” to honor the memory of the lost family members. It passed in the Fall of 2014 but there was a six-month grace period to comply. That officially ends on April 15, 2015. As of that date, all Ontarians who heat their home with natural gas, oil or propane or have any other fuel-burning appliances are now required by law to have working carbon monoxide alarms installed outside all sleeping areas. Homes with an attached garage are also required to heed the new legislation.
Peter Derrington, district chief of public education for Toronto Fire Services says, “This law mandates the installation of CO alarms in most homes in the province. It is an extremely important piece of legislation because, without a CO alarm, you have no way of knowing if this deadly gas is present in your home.”
He says carbon monoxide alarms, the safety devices at the heart of this new law, need to become as familiar to homeowners as their counterpart, the smoke alarm.
“People have had decades to understand the importance of smoke alarms and now the education process must begin for carbon monoxide alarms as well,” says Carol Heller of Kidde Canada, the country’s largest manufacturer of alarms and other safety accessories. “Like smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms must be working to save your life. So they must be powered, and never removed in the event of a false alarm.”
The law also states that CO alarms must be maintained and replaced in accordance with manufacturer instructions. “Just like smoke alarms which must be replaced every 10 years, CO alarms too have a limited lifespan,” Heller adds. “Carbon monoxide alarms must be replaced every seven to 10 years depending on the brand, whether they are hardwired or plug-in models. The newest generation of CO alarms now feature sealed 10-year lithium batteries that never need to be changed for the entire decade of protection the alarm provides.”
Chris Leiva, heating and air conditioning expert with ClimateCare says, “Homeowners have a role to play working with their HVAC service providers to keep their fuel-burning equipment working properly. Annual inspections are not something that can be put off, and should never be tackled as a do-it-yourself project.” He also points out that, “Sources of CO include any fuel-burning appliance such as a gas, oil or propane furnace, gas stove, gas or wood fireplace, and many others.”
In conjunction with the April 15th compliance date, John Gignac and his foundation have released a three-part video series called “Get To Know CO” covering details about the new law, the sources and symptoms of CO, and how to select the CO alarm that is right for your family. Guest experts are featured in each of the short educational videos. To view the videos go to www.endthesilence.ca. As well, Gignac will be traveling to select markets across Ontario from April 15-17 on an education and awareness tour.
Visit the Foundation’s website at www.endthesilence.ca and watch for their announcements about carbon monoxide awareness and Ontario’s CO alarm law. Follow us on Twitter @HawkinsGignac, Like Us at Facebook.com/HawkinsGignacFoundation.
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