Carbon Monoxide Detectors Now Required in Ontario, Canada

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FrontPoint provides peace of mind not just in the US – but also across Canada. And we follow home alarm trends north of the border just as closely as we do closer to home: it happens that the two markets for residential home security are very similar. I’m not just talking about intrusion detection here, but also fire detection and monitoring for environmental conditions –like carbon monoxide (CO).

Ontario, Canada Joins the List

Now we can add Ontario, Canada to the list of jurisddictions that have passed a law that requires the use of carbon monoxide detectors in residential settings. I’ve posted on this topic before (when similar laws were passed in New York and California, for example). You may also have seen posts on close calls related to carbon monoxide poisoning, or even a fatality, such as the tragic incident where five people died from CO poisoning last year in Maryland. Now Ontario is on board, and none too soon for that province’s residents.

Last week, lawmakers in Ontario, Canada, passed the Hawkins-Gignac Act, which requires the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in all homes with fuel-burning appliances or heating systems, fireplaces or attached garages. The law is named after Ontario Provincial Police constable Laurie Hawkins, her husband Richard and their two children Cassandra and Jordan, who were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning in their Woodstock, Ontario home in 2008.

Background on the New Law

“Along with our ongoing education efforts, it is our goal to support all Canadian provinces in passing similar laws to protect all our citizens equally,” John Gignac, Laurie’s uncle and co-chair of the Hawkins-Gignac Foundation for CO Education said in a statement posted on the foundation’s website. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think of the accident and how easily it could have been prevented.”

Details on the Devices

The bill was initially brought forth in 2009 by Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman. According to statement issued by Canadian electric company Birnie Electric, under the act, homes or apartments built before Aug. 6, 2011 — when the Ontario Building Code was amended — don’t have to have carbon monoxide detectors installed. Instead, the bill would require a battery operated or plugged in detector for those residences.

Why is Carbon Monoxide Dangerous?

Often called “the silent killer,” CO is a silent, invisible byproduct of incomplete combustion, and it’s often associated with furnaces and portable heaters: here’s a link to the science of how it kills. At medium concentration, CO can cause death in as little as 15 minutes, while much lower levels can harm pregnancies, and cause long-term health issues. Death caused by CO inhalation is on the increase. In fact, the AMA (American Medical Association) names CO as the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America.

Close Calls

Of course, the best systems are the ones that are part of an alarm systems that is monitored by a remote central station. You may be able to detect smoke in your home, but you won’t necessarily know when CO could be building to dangerous levels. Authorities report cases where a central monitoring receives a CO alarm and calls the home: the homeowner may say, “This must be a false alarm, because I can’t smell anything.”  A good monitoring station will reply, “You need to leave the home.” Too often the fire department arrives and takes a measurement that reveals a potentially fatal buildup of CO.

FrontPoint could not agree more: while the cheaper “plug-in” sensors are readily available, there is no substitute for a monitored carbon monoxide sensor. Just like a monitored smoke and heat sensor, a monitored CO sensor will send the alarm to the 24 hour monitoring center, which can dispatch help immediately. If you have passed out from CO poisoning, just having a loud noise in the home is not going to save your life.

A monitored system has a much better chance of making that crucial difference – by summoning help– and why we don’t charge extra for CO monitoring, the way some of our competitors do. In fact, we don’t charge extra for any of our special monitoring services: fire, water, or low temperature. We just want you to feel protected, without feeling ripped off for that extra peace of mind.

Remember, today’s alarm systems are designed to monitor for much more than intrusion. Your insurance company will appreciate it too, and may reward you with a lower premium. A full range of sensors goes hand in hand with interactive, wireless home security – the kind you find you find at FrontPoint, the leader in wireless home security, and the #1 ranked alarm company in the US. Do you have all the sensors you need to protect your family?

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