Two events in the last 24 hours in our world has helped to demonstrate the ongoing carbon monoxide crisis that happens every winter. The first is that one of our colleagues reached out to us for help convincing a local building commission to require hardwired carbon monoxide detectors in all new construction. The second is a hockey arena was evacuated in Sioux Saint Marie Ontario, Canada. What is the connection? The difficulty in identifying that events are caused by a carbon monoxide crisis.

Carbon Monoxide Crisis in Hockey Arena

In Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Canada. According to the, during a hockey game on Tuesday night, the McMeeken hockey arena was filled with carbon monoxide above 25o parts per million, with both teams and spectators getting ill. As there was no carbon monoxide detector on the premises, the crisis wasn’t discovered until after the game was over. Fortunately someone put together that both teams were suffering the same symptoms. If one of the players had not been the son of a firefighter, the carbon monoxide crisis might not have been discovered. See

“Readings were in excess of 250 parts per million,” Deputy Fire Chief Peter Johnson was quoted in the as saying in the above story. “Very concerning with an exposure of two hours or more.”

Those still left in the arena were evacuated but the source had not been determined at the time of the story. One wonders how many people went home and received no treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning. The question might be asked, if they didn’t know they needed treatment, how bad could it be? Bad, real bad for as many as 40% of those people present.

The Role of Detectors in Heading off a Carbon Monoxide Crisis

Yesterday, before we read this news, we were asked by a colleague for a statement that she could share with a building commission in Indiana. Here is what we said in that statement:

“The importance of working carbon monoxide detectors can’t be overstated. Without a detectors, there will be no warning that someone is not suffering from a flu like illness, for which the common prescription is to go to sleep. Go to sleep and you are likely to die in a CO rich environment. If detectors are hard wired into the construction, then even if the batteries have not been kept fresh, the detector will warn in the overwhelming number of emergencies. The only logical choice is to get detectors installed, wired into to new construction.

“Too many in the medical profession see carbon monoxide poisoning as a binary choice, almost like choking. Your oxygen cut off too long, you will die. You somehow avoid death through asphyxiation, then you will be fine. But more than 40% of those who survive significant carbon monoxide poisoning will have long term neuropsychiatric symptoms. What does that mean? It means they will have brain damage, brain damage that is likely to disable them for life.

“There is no cure for brain damage. The only cure is prevention. CO detection is the best prevention and that requires working CO detectors.”

Those who survived in Sault Ste. Marie likely inhaled enough carbon monoxide to get their COHb levels above 10%. If there had been a detector where it could have been heard by people, the building would have been evacuated before anyone’s level got to a critical level. CO detectors do make a difference. Here, many people had probably already left before the alarm was sounded. The only alarm there was the human body, an alarm that would not have been understood for what it was, if so many people hadn’t gotten sick at the same time.

Don’t take a chance that someone will figure out that there is a carbon monoxide crisis from the bodies reactions. Get CO detectors, anywhere there is indoor air. In other words, every single building, regardless of use.


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