Saskatchewan is making smoke and carbon monoxide alarms mandatory in all residential buildings, regardless of the building’s age.
Government Relations Minister Don McMorris said it will better ensure the safety of people in their homes.
“The health, welfare and safety of residents in their homes is a priority in building safe communities and a strong Saskatchewan,” McMorris said in a release Friday.
“Requiring all residential buildings to have working CO and smoke alarms ensures you and your family are better protected against these dangerous substances.”
Smoke alarms were previously only required in homes built since 1988, and CO alarms were required in new builds as of 2009.
Saskatoon fire Chief Morgan Hackl said he welcomed the change.
He told Global News more detectors and alarms mean less harm will come to Saskatchewan residents.
“There will be earlier intervention, there will be technology in place to help human beings get out of buildings sooner,” he said.
“And so with that, this … earlier intervention, technology will make the community safer.”
And having provincial legislation is important, he said, “because we do know carbon monoxide as a silent killer.”
SaskEnergy said an average of 1,200 CO incidents were reported annually between 2018 and 2020.
Earlier this year, a carbon monoxide leak at an apartment building in Saskatoon sickened dozens of residents.
Nearly 50 people needed medical treatment on Jan. 14 and Hackl at the time said the carbon monoxide level could have been lethal for anyone exposed for more than a couple of hours.
The property owner installed alarms later that week.
Kim Scrivener, who lives in the building, said these regulations should have been implemented a long time ago.
“These small devices can save so many lives. So why do you not, why would you not have these things?” she said.
She wasn’t home when the gas leak occurred but told Global News she was alarmed by what she way when she returned.
“It was scary not knowing what was happening, and then just seeing the biohazard suits everywhere.”
The regulations, she said, will hopefully prevent what could have happened to her and her family.
“It’s so important because I have two young kids, a small dog… it could have been so bad.”
Exposure to CO can lead to confusion, drowsiness, loss of consciousness, brain damage and death.
“Saskatchewan citizens want assurance that their residences are safe, and it has been shown that working carbon monoxide and smoke alarm devices save lives,” said Marvin Meickel, Saskatchewan’s chief building official.
“When implemented, the regulations will establish a minimum level of life safety for people, now and into the future.”
The province said enforcement of the new measures will not start until July 1, 2022, to give property owners time to purchase and install the alarms.
—With files from Kyle Benning