Elks make donation
Distribute carbon monoxide detectors to seniors

by Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

NNSL (Aug 29/97) - Your house might be making you sick. The culprit: carbon monoxide invading the air you breathe.

To help seniors detect carbon monoxide, the Yellowknife Fire Department and the Yellowknife Elks Lodge 314 have joined forces to distribute 100 free carbon monoxide detectors.

Seniors are more likely to be adversely affected by carbon monoxide because of age or an existing health problem, deputy fire chief Mike Lowing said.

The Fire Department approached the Elks Lodge about funding for the 100 detectors and "the Elks turned the idea into reality," Lowing said. Detectors cost between $45 and $75.

The department expects to have the detectors available for distribution to seniors mid to late September.

"We've found carbon monoxide is more and more prevalent in homes," Lowing said. There's not necessarily more carbon monoxide but technology has allowed better detection, he added.

Lowing described carbon monoxide poisoning as "suffocating from the inside."

In high doses, carbon monoxide can compromise a person's health -- even cause death -- while low-level doses can generate headaches or other flu-like symptoms, he said.

Cigarette smoke, fireplaces, faulty furnaces or cracked heat exchangers produces carbon monoxide.

Running a car while parked in a garage or even a neighbor's vehicle can increase exposure to carbon monoxide.

"The best way to protect yourself is to get a detector," Lowing said.

Seniors are asked to contact the Fire Department or the Baker Community Centre if they wish a free detector.

If there's an alarm --the detectors beep -- homeowners should call the department and vacate the house.

Firefighters will then test the home to determine where the carbon monoxide is coming from.

Lowing added that anybody can request a carbon monoxide test. Last January alone, the department tested 150 homes for carbon monoxide.