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Bird Nest in Chimney Blamed in Deaths

Last week two Kingston Ontario men died of carbon monoxide poisoning in their own home, the suspected cause was a bird’s nest found in the furnace chimney. Firefighters who entered the home after 9pm found high levels of carbon monoxide within the dwelling and the bodies of the father and son. Firefighters then inspected the furnace chimney for a blockage and pulled what appeared to be a birds nest from inside. It is suspected that the blockage caused the oil fired furnace to vent the carbon monoxide into the dwelling, thus making the atmosphere within the home deadly.


As we have mentioned in previous articles, carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that is commonly produced in most homes. Any combustion device, such as a fuel burning furnace or fireplace produces carbon monoxide, and improper ventilation can bring deadly results. Carbon monoxide is colourless, odourless and tasteless, it can not be detected without a device designed to do so. Often people experiencing low level poisoning complain of headaches or flu like symptoms, higher level poisoning can result in death. These deaths often happen during the night when the residents of a home are sleeping, carbon monoxide will not wake you up, it will actually put you into a deeper sleep as your body becomes oxygen deficient. Carbon monoxide (CO) when breathed into the lungs at elevated levels replaces the oxygen in the red blood cells. Our lungs can not expel the CO at the same rate as Carbon Dioxide, so the cells become depleted of oxygen and the body literally suffocates. Small children having less body mass are even more susceptible to CO poisoning than adults.


Looking back at the incident in Kingston, there were two steps that needed to be taken to have prevented this from happening; furnace maintenance and a CO detector. Both of which combined would have amounted to less than a $200 expense. Yearly inspection of your heating appliances before being used, should be a must for all homes. Despite the safety aspect, it might even save you money, as a well maintained appliance will work more efficiently. Lastly, having a CO detector near all bedrooms should be covered under the same laws affecting smoke alarms, unfortunately at present this is not the case. The only homes not requiring a CO detector are those that are heated electrically, even then there are enough secondary appliances in most homes that it would warrant having one anyway. For less than $50 a CO detector can warn you of a potential deadly situation, it seems almost foolish not have one.

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