‘I could have been burying my granddaughter’: carbon monoxide incident leads to call for more education

Click to play video: 'Close call leads to demand for more carbon monoxide education in New Brunswick'
Close call leads to demand for more carbon monoxide education in New Brunswick
WATCH: The hospitalization of three people in a carbon monoxide poisoning incident in Saint John has led to calls for more education on the issue. As Andrew Cromwell reports, one woman says a close call has left her feeling unsafe in her home – Jan 2, 2018

A mother and daughter from Saint John are calling for better education around carbon monoxide detectors following a close call last Friday night.

Jessica Sypher and her mother Jean were out. A family friend was looking after the woman’s daughters, aged 4 and 11.

READ MORE: Three people released from hospital after N.B. carbon monoxide leak

They returned home to find a locked door and their friend inside, clearly struggling.

“It almost looked like he was swallowing his tongue, choking to death,” said Jessica Sypher.

Their friend was suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, as were the two girls sleeping upstairs. A neighbour kicked in the door and all three were flown to hospital in Halifax.

They’re now back home, but Jean Sypher says she finds herself angry, knowing the ending could have been far worse.

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READ: Most homeowners need educating on carbon monoxide detectors: survey

“I could have been burying my granddaughter and my daughter and my friend,” she said.

The Syphers are calling for better education around carbon monoxide detectors, including how they work and how much time people have if the detector goes off.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is called the “silent killer” because it’s an odourless and tasteless gas.

Although it’s not law in New Brunswick, the Saint John Fire Department advocates for all homes in the province to be equipped with CO detectors, adding all alarms should be investigated.

“Whether it’s a low battery or maybe it’s just a faint smell from burnt toast, it has to be investigated because again, early detection, it will save your life,” said Division Chief Mark Wilson.

The unit Jessica Sypher lives in, along with other similar homes on the block, are subsidized housing units owned by the provincial government. A faulty boiler is to blame for Friday’s incident.

In a statement, the Department of Social Development says the boiler that malfunctioned was replaced and certified by Saturday night.

WATCH: How to protect your family from carbon monoxide

Click to play video: 'How to protect your family from carbon monoxide'
How to protect your family from carbon monoxide

It adds “all other boilers in the Courtney Centre project where Stephen Park is located are scheduled for re-inspection this week” and that “while there were no issues with the carbon monoxide alarms, the department has replaced them in two units as a safety precaution.”

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Meantime, Jessica Sypher says she doesn’t feel safe in her home anymore.

“I don’t like being on top of the furnace anymore,” she said. “Now that that’s happened, it’s always in the back of my mind.”

She says she plans to move out as soon as possible.

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