'It can happen to anybody': Son speaks out after couple's carbon monoxide deaths
The son of a couple who died from carbon monoxide poisoning in Halifax earlier this week is speaking out to raise awareness about the silent killer.
Chris Williams’ mother, 54-year-old Marlene Gallagher Arsenault, and his step-father, 56-year-old Tom Norman, died inside their home on Friday, Jan. 27.
Williams had gone to check on them when his mom hadn’t shown up to take her grandchildren to school.
“I then at that time saw my mom lying face down on the floor, just a few feet from the door. So at that time I banged even harder screaming for my mom to wake up,” he told CTV Atlantic,
He called 911 and police arrived on the scene shortly after.
“I pleaded if there was a pulse and there was no words spoken. The cop just shook his head.”
Fire investigators detected extremely high levels of carbon monoxide on the scene and later attributed it to a faulty furnace.
Williams now hopes that his family’s tragedy will serve as a warning to others.
“It can happen to anybody,” he said. “Carbon monoxide detectors were not present in the home, had they been present I would still have my mom. I would still have my stepdad.”
“If you have a wood stove or an oil furnace, please install a carbon monoxide detector,” said Halifax Deputy Fire Chief Roy Hollett. “If you don't have the resources to put one in please give us a call through 311 and we'll set up an appointment to come put one in,” he added.
Officials in New Brunswick are also warning residents to take precautions against carbon monoxide poisoning.
Two people have been found dead in two separate northern New Brunswick homes after they were poisoned by carbon monoxide. Seven others have been sent to hospital, seriously ill after being exposed to high levels of the gas.
The risk is especially high for those who remain off the grid in New Brunswick. The recent ice storm has left thousands without power and some are turning to generators, woodstoves, or barbeques to eat and stay warm. But officials warn that if those appliances are not properly ventilated, homeowners may not know they are being poisoned until it’s too late.
The gas is odourless, colourless and tasteless, which means it’s difficult to tell if you’re inhaling it.
“You might start to get symptoms of maybe dizziness, nausea, confusion but of course if you think that that's another cause and you don't get out of your house or stop the source then it can lead to unconsciousness and death,” said president of the New Brunswick Lung Association Barbara MacKinnon.
Provincial emergency officials say if you don't have power and are in need of food and warmth, go to a warming station rather than taking any risks.
"You should always have a carbon monoxide detector in your house, so if you have any source of combustion on your house, you should have one of those," said MacKinnon.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Brown and Kayla Hounsell