Family feels lucky to be alive after suspected carbon monoxide poisoning early Saturday morning
CALGARY -- The Al Shallals are thankful to be alive.
The family of eight all suffered symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning early Saturday morning.
“I was asleep, then my brother woke me up,” said Nader Al Shallal, the family’s second oldest son.
“If we stayed a bit longer we could have died, like all of us.”
EMS and fire crews were called to the family’s northeast Calgary home in the 400 block of 18th Avenue about 4 a.m Saturday.
Paramedics say 10 people (six adults and four children) fell mysteriously ill, including the family’s youngest son, Adam, who is only 12-months-old.
“This is extremely fortunate, given we’re not entirely sure how long the carbon monoxide may have been building up in the home,” said Stuart Brideaux, a Calgary EMS spokesperson.
The Calgary Fire Department began testing in the home and determined there was extremely high levels of carbon monoxide.
“Some as high as 1,100 parts per million (ppm)," said Brideaux. "But even in other areas of the house, in the high hundreds, 700 to 750 ppm. That amount alone is dangerous in very short periods of time.”
(According to Kidde Fire Safety, a company that manufactures carbon monoxide alarms, a dangerous level is 'greater than 101 ppm if someone is experiencing symptoms')
Sam Nammoura helped the Al Shallals when they arrived in Canada from Lebanon more than three years ago.
He works with the Calgary Immigrant Support Society.
Nammoura says this incident serves as a reminder for all new Canadians and new immigrants to know the dangers of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.
“A lot of people that come from overseas, their home structures are completely different and the fire code is completely different,” said Nammoura.
“This is the first time where I experienced a family of eight that were so close to a disaster to happen because of carbon monoxide.”
Officials say there were no working smoke detectors or carbon monoxide alarms in the home.
The Calgary Fire Department added that the CO may have originated from the furnace, due to a blockage and lack of proper ventilation.
CO is an odourless, colourless and tasteless gas that blocks your body from getting the oxygen it needs to survive.
“You don’t know what’s going on. We just felt it though, we start feeling dizzy and got headache,” said Nader Al Shallal.
The symptoms of exposure are very similar to other common ailments such as lethargy, headaches and nausea.
Nader said his mother, Sahar, had the most severe symptoms, feeling sick, with a racing heart, before collapsing onto the couch.
That’s when they called 911, with paramedics arriving in four ambulances.
“We sat in the trucks and then they told us we all have to go to the hospital to check if we are okay," said Nader.
The homeowner has since replaced the furnace and added working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms
Fire officials say its important every resident check their CO alarms monthly, replace the batteries annually and find out what the life span of their alarm is.
Two friends of the Al Shallal’s oldest son were also in the home at the time.