A Coldsteam couple was forced to evacuate their home after high CO levels were detected in their home. (Photo contributed).

Coldstream couple survives carbon monoxide scare

“We were extremely lucky. We’re still here because [the detector] worked.”

When the alarm first sounded at Lori McIntosh and Mike Caira’s house on Middleton Mountain in Coldstream Monday night, they had no idea how lucky they were.

McIntosh and Caira bought the house about 10 years ago and hadn’t replaced the smoke or carbon monoxide detectors since. Little did they know, they were nearing their expiration date when they were finally put to the test.

Related: Poor ventilation likely cause of carbon monoxide incident at B.C. farm

Related: Emergency response ‘well executed’ in B.C. carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) is known as a “silent killer.” It’s an odourless and tasteless gas that is slightly less dense than air. It is toxic when encountered in concentrations above about 35 parts per million (ppm).

“We were extremely lucky,” said Caira. “We knew it was either this year or next that the detectors needed changing. After Monday, I checked and it did say that it needed to be changed in 2018 so thank God it worked. We’re still here because it worked.”

It was about 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 5 and the couple was settling down for the night by watching TV. McIntosh said although she had experienced a migraine for about three days and Caira had been feeling a bit drowsy, they hadn’t thought much of it. The couple, who have a gas fireplace and a furnace, said they started feeling warm so Caira turned off the fire and turned the temperature down.

“It couldn’t have been more than 15 minutes after that when we heard an initial beeping. Your first reaction is to assume its just the battery that is going but then the CO detector upstairs started communicating with the one downstairs because they’re hardwired and alerted us to get out,” said McIntosh. “What I didn’t know about carbon monoxide is that it travels up and you could see that in the ratings once they did their tests.”

After hearing the alarm, Caira called 911 and they, along with their two dogs, evacuated their house until the Coldstream fire department arrived.

“The first firetruck had three guys and of course they break out their CO detector and they were in the house for about three minutes and they had a rating of about 80 or 90 ppm was the first detection and then they came out, put on their protective gear and went back inside and got to the basement and it was 120 ppm.”

Because both were exhibiting symptoms of CO poisoning — namely McIntosh who had a migraine — they were rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, were admitted to the hospital immediately, and had their blood tested and oxygen pumped into their lungs.

Meanwhile, the fire department aired out the house and determined it was safe for them to return home. They were back home by 11 p.m. After further examination Tuesday, the cause was determined as an “environmental accident.”

“In the end, there was really nothing wrong with the furnace or the gas fireplace but because we live on Middleton Mountain they said it was more than likely that it was an air circulation problem as it was coming down [into the house] through the B vent,” said Caira. “So air flowing up and down the mountain blew back down and stopped the CO from escaping and then the furnace circulated it through the house. So it was a fluky thing — an environmental air thing.”

A B-vent gas fireplace is a type of natural draft system that uses a special pipe to carry combustion gases out of your home. They said they have since replaced their detectors and said their next step is to meet with the plumber who installed their fireplaces and discuss changing to a different rain cap over the vent to protect it from that wind coming back down the pipe the same way in the future.

They said they are also taking this as an opportunity to warn others in the community about the dangers of CO and to urge people to check their fire alarms and CO detectors.

“We just bought a new one and ours are hard-wired and battery back-up. For $62 each, they are well worth the investment,” said Caira. “Any new ones are labelled with an expiry date but if they don’t have an expiry date on them then just replace them because they’re old.”

“It was certainly a reminder for us,” added McIntosh. “A very good and very lucky reminder. We just feel so blessed to still be here.”

All Canadian Tire stores across the country will be offering discounts on CO alarms this November and the Detect to Protect Event Ambassadors will be providing tips on CO prevention in select Canadian Tire locations — as well as offering customers a chance to win prizes via DetectToProtect.ca.

In Vernon, the upcoming in-store event is set to take place this Saturday, Nov. 10 at the Canadian Tire located at 345-4900 27th Street.

To avoid the production of CO, people should have their chimney, furnace and gas-fired appliances checked by professional technicians every year.

Related: B.C. student helps design bracelet to measure poison air from wildfires

Related: Carbon monoxide detectors promoted

Related: RCMP caution boaters after two kids pass out from carbon monoxide poisoning

To report a typo, email:
newstips@vernonmorningstar.com
.



Follow me on Twitter @BrieChar
Email me brieanna.charlebois@vernonmorningstar.com
Like us on Facebook.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Lori McIntosh took to Facebook Tuesday to share her story and urge people to check the CO detectors in their homes. (Facebook photo).

Just Posted

Vernon-area duo still awaiting trial for animal abuse

Trial date expected to be set within the next three weeks

Vernon woman named one of B.C.’s Top 40 business leaders

Amanda Shatzko, consultant and politician, picked up Business in Vancouver Top 40 selection

Lavington garage goes up in flames

The house next to the garage was minimally damaged; residents required to vacate home temporarily

Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings take spotlight in Vernon

Outlaw Country to revive classics of the Man in Black in March

Vernon cadets medal at Sovereign Lake biathlon

First time in 15 years championships held on home turf

Okanagan divers ready to take on 2020 B.C. Winter Games

The athletes have been training four days a week

Guidelines regulate Summerland cannabis stores

The municipality’s policy, 300.6 establishes the 50-metre buffer zone around schools and parks

Largest aircraft to operate at YLW begins service to Toronto this summer

The Boeing 767-300ER will increase seat availability for flights to Toronto by 40 per cent

B.C. budget fails to ‘excite’ Kelowna business community

Chamber says Budget 2020 lacks a clearly defined competitiveness strategy

Shuswap woman creates stress-reducing cuffs for Alzheimer’s patients

Personal connection to disease adds meaning to endeavour

Penticton MLA urges government to address fatal stretch of Hwy 97

“People are being injured and lives are being lost on this stretch of highway.” - MLA Dan Ashton

Man accused in Salmon Arm 7-Eleven fire pleads not guilty to breach of bail

Supreme Court trial will decide arson charges while Provincial Court will look at breach charge

Province shows no interest in proposed highway between Alberta and B.C.

Province says it will instead focus on expanding the Kicking Horse Canyon to four lanes

Median cost of newly-built home in Kelowna metropolitan area stands at $950,000: Report

According to report, the price is almost on-par with newly-built homes in Toronto

Most Read