By Tina Comeau
Several small children were checked over by paramedics at a home on Cumberland Street in Yarmouth on Tuesday morning, Feb. 5, after a 911 call was placed to the fire department over suspected carbon monoxide in the home.
For everyone's safety, the fire department did not want the children or their parents to occupy the rented home until the landlord of the property had checked over the furnace to ensure it was safe for the people living there.
Speaking to the Yarmouth Vanguard at the scene, Yarmouth Fire Chief Shawn Ripley said, “There was a complaint involving children and people were fainting and not feeling well so we came and checked for carbon monoxide and there was no readings found.
“For safety wise, because there is an issue with the furnace, we’re going to get them to go elsewhere with their parents . . . We won’t be allowing anybody to occupy the house until the landlord fixes the furnace.”
When the fire department arrived on the scene, Ripley says one of the adult occupants of the home was not being cooperative so the department asked for assistance from the RCMP.
“He wanted help but he didn’t want to leave his home, he was worried about where they were going to go,” said Ripley.
Several RCMP officers attended to help keep the peace, although things were calm as they and the occupants of the home stood outside talking.
Ripley said when the 911 call came in they were told there were six children and two adults in the home. RCMP officers escorted the young children from the home to be checked over by paramedics. Two ambulances were on the scene. The fire department checked the inside of the home.
“We used two different gas detectors and everything came up negative. But there is an issue with the furnace and there is a smell of furnace oil. The furnace is leaking oil, in that case it’s a noxious smell, it will make you sick,” said Ripley. “The furnace is leaking steady.”
He said during winter, and particularly lately with temperatures being so cold, it is important for homeowners and landlords of properties that people rent to check furnaces to ensure they are working properly.
The chief said he himself just went through a similar situation.
“My furnace was poisoning me with carbon monoxide in the house I just bought, I wasn’t in it 30 days and I had to put a new furnace in. I was very sick and I overlooked it because three people had looked at the furnace before I bought the house and they said it was okay, it wasn’t, it was 30 years old,” he said.
Ripley said people should take note if their furnace is consuming large amounts of oil and if there are unusual odours coming from it.
Although carbon monoxide itself is an odourless, tasteless gas, he said there are signs to watch for.
“If people are dizzy, having headaches, feeling nauseated and are vomiting, no fever, they should seek help and have the furnace looked at ASAP and get out,” he said. “And if in doubt call the fire department and we can check for gas readings.”
He said people should also be cautious of wood stoves. If the pipe is leaking and you smell smoke in the house you’re at risk for carbon monoxide, he said.
Ripley also recommends having both smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in homes.
“If they can’t afford a smoke alarm or if the landlord doesn’t do it they can come see us and we have a program and we’ll do it, get them a smoke alarm and put it up if need be. The same if they need a carbon monoxide detector, we can arrange to get it for them too,” he said. “The carbon monoxide detectors are kind of pricey, $40 or $50, but it can be a life saver.”