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Local real estate board donates carbon monoxide alarms

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Marcel Vandehoef and Walter Kleer, members of the Tillsonburg District Real Estate Board’s Community Programs Committee, presented 67 carbon monoxide alarms to the Tillsonburg Fire and Rescue Services Monday morning at the Tillsonburg fire hall.

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And a promise of a few more with a donation of about five alarms still coming.

The donation, which comes from local real estate brokerages and local businesses, is traditionally made during Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week, Nov. 1-7.

“We’ve been doing it for the past five years,” said Vandehoef, chair of the Community Programs Committee, noting in past years they also had a booth at the Tillsonburg Town Centre, with firefighters assisting.

“I think it’s just about creating awareness,” said Vandehoef. “It’s a small thing we can do back for the community.

“Carbon monoxide is the silent killer, and I think a few years ago we all remember the (Hawkins) family in Woodstock. I think it’s a very, very great cause to get them out there in the homes.”

“We’re really the facilitators, there’s a lot of sponsors that contribute the alarms,” said Kleer, who also noted the importance of providing the alarms to the fire department. “They are the frontline people, they are there checking, making sure they are operational. What better place to provide them, so they can make the best use of them?”

It is currently mandatory to have carbon monoxide alarms in any home with fuel-fired appliances or an attached garage, said Tillsonburg Fire Chief Brad Lemaich.

“Anybody with natural gas, propane, wood, oil, or whatever, or an attached garage, then they have to have them outside of the sleeping areas in the home.”

Even though it has been a law for the last six to seven years, Lemaich said it’s still an ‘uphill battle’ educating the public.

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“A lot of people don’t understand that they have a finite life span – you can’t depend on them forever. So it’s great when these folks approached us with the offer to partner up, we wholeheartedly accepted and are very grateful for their donation. It helps us, resource-wise, with our CO program in the community.”

Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman, who introduced the Hawkins Gignac Act as a private member’s bill in 2013 and recently promoted the seventh annual Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week, attended Monday’s carbon monoxide presentation.

“I just want to thank the Tillsonburg Fire Service (and the Tillsonburg District Real Estate Board) for recognizing Carbon Monoxide Week, and we want to make sure the public is aware of it,” said Hardeman, appreciating the awareness booth at the local mall.

“Since we got the bill, we’ve been so pleased with how the fire services have taken it up and it’s now become almost as prevalent as it is to remind people of the importance of smoke detectors.”

“For us, it is,” Lemaich nodded. “We have the opportunity to be in many homes over the course of the year, and we endeavour to make sure we leave no home unprotected. So having a stock of CO alarms really helps us to know that when we leave a person’s or family’s residence that they have the protection they need. In some cases, there are financial or other reasons that they’re not protected, but this donation absolutely helps us make sure they’re safe in their homes.”

“I think it of utmost important to recognize, because of how originally it (the danger of carbon monoxide) got left behind… people got the idea that it wasn’t as important as smoke detectors,” said Hardeman, “when one is as deadly as the other. In fact, to save lives, it’s more important than smoke detectors. Smoke detectors are a necessity at night when people are asleep. In the daytime, when people are awake, you don’t need a smoke detector to see smoke. Carbon monoxide, it doesn’t matter what time of day or night, if you don’t have a detector, you won’t know it’s there.”

cabbott@postmedia.com

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