Carbon monoxide from car in garage killed Côte-St-Luc couple: coroner

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This is a heartbreaking, tragic reminder to be vigilant and prudent when parking your car in the garage and of the critical need to have CO detectors in your home.

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House where couple was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019 in Côte-St-Luc. PIERRE OBENDRAUF / MONTREAL GAZETTE

Woman probably forgot to turn her car’s ignition off after parking it in the garage

FRÉDÉRIC TOMESCO  Montreal Gazette: December 9, 2019

A Côte-St-Luc couple died of carbon monoxide poisoning last winter when the wife probably forgot to turn her car’s ignition off after parking it in the garage, a coroner has concluded.

Roger Banon and Simone Elkeslassy were found dead by one of their sons Feb. 6 after uncharacteristically failing to answer phone calls during the day. Firefighters called to the scene noted the presence of carbon monoxide inside the garage and the house.

The couple lived in a single-family residence, with their bedroom located directly above the garage. A carbon monoxide detector was installed in the basement and was in service, the report said.

Banon, 88, had Parkinson’s disease. He had the constant help and support of his 84-year-old wife and other family members, according to the coroner’s report, which was released Monday. Husband and wife — both wearing pyjamas — were found lying on the floor of the guest room.

“It appears that Mr. Banon’s spouse probably had a moment of distraction when returning from the grocery store on Feb. 5 and forgot to shut down the engine of her car,” coroner Julie-Kim Godin concluded in her report dated Sept. 25, ruling out suicide.

Having just returned from a trip, Elkeslassy “had to resume her activities and her routine,” Godin wrote. “She had several tasks to perform and needed to take care of her partner. She probably had a lot of concerns on her mind, which contributed to this moment of distraction.”

Montreal police investigators found Elkeslassy’s car parked in the garage. While the garage door leading onto the driveway was closed, investigators were unable to establish whether the inside door leading to the house was open or closed.

The car key was in the ignition and it was switched on, the coroner’s report said. The fuel gauge indicated that the tank was empty and the hood was lukewarm.

“This allows us to conclude that the engine continued to run, probably for several hours, producing significant carbon monoxide emissions in the house,” Godin wrote.

Elkeslassy was an “active, autonomous woman who was very involved in the community,” Godin also wrote. She was seeing a doctor regularly, and a recent appointment had not resulted in any problems being identified. Elkeslassy “loved life and was very resilient,” the report cited her doctor as saying. She had never expressed suicidal ideas, the report said.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a recurring problem in Quebec.

On Friday, a Laval woman was found dead in a house after being poisoned by the toxic gas, police said. Two other people were taken to a hospital for the same reason. Results of the investigation may be announced Tuesday, a Laval police spokesperson said Monday.

Carbon monoxide is a clear, odourless and tasteless gas that can make humans sick and can lead to death. The gas is created when fuels such as oil, coal, wood, gasoline, propane and natural gas are burned.

Carbon monoxide doesn’t irritate the eyes or respiratory tract. But when a person inhales it, the gas enters their blood and interferes with oxygen intake, damaging tissue, according to Quebec’s health department. The effects can vary depending on the quantity of the gas in the air and the length of exposure. Severe carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to a coma and death within minutes.

ftomesco@postmedia.com

CSL developing plan to ensure CO detectors in every local home | thesuburban.com

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Côte St. Luc’s staff directors will be presenting a plan to the city council “to ensure that every home in [the city] has carbon monoxide detectors,” Mayor Mitchell Brownstein told The Suburban.

We asked for Brownstein’s reaction to the deaths last Wednesday of a couple identified in the media as Roger and Simone Banon of Cavendish Blvd. According to media reports and interviews, it appears the couple, 88 and 84 years old respectively, forgot to shut off their car motor and it is suspected they died of carbon monoxide poisoning. We have heard that the couple’s bedroom was directly above the garage of their home.

“This is a terrible tragedy and the city shall be proactive to ensure something like this does not happen again,” the Mayor added.

No criminality is suspected in this tragedy.

Former CSL councillor Glenn Nashen, who used to have the public safety portfolio on council, wrote on his blog page that there should be a law requiring CO detectors in every local home, “regardless of the year it was built.

“These devices are cheap and readily available at hardware stores and pharmacies, easy to install— many simply plug in — and alert you once the device has expired in 7-10 years,” Nashen wrote. “They also save lives.”

The CSL website fire safety page strongly recommends CO detectors.

“Ideally, you should install one on the same level as the bedrooms, on the ceiling of the common corridor serving those bedrooms,” the page says. “An additional unit is strongly recommended in the area where the potential source of carbon monoxide is situated —furnace room or family room fireplace.”

The Quebec Coroner’s Office told us the investigation is still underway into last week’s tragedy, and that we will be advised when their report is ready.

Source: CSL developing plan to ensure CO detectors in every local home | City News | thesuburban.com

Why you must have a carbon monoxide detector in your house

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According to the Cote Saint-Luc fire safety webpage, Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas that is toxic in high concentrations or over extended periods of exposure. It is a by-product of incomplete combustion (burning). If you heat by wood, oil or gas, or cook by wood or gas, if your hot water is heated by gas, if you have an indoor gas operated grill, etc., then there is a risk of exposure and an investment in a carbon monoxide detector is highly recommended.

Ideally, you should install one on the same level as the bedrooms, on the ceiling of the common corridor serving those bedrooms. An additional unit is strongly recommended in the area where the potential source of carbon monoxide is situated (furnace room or family room fireplace, etc.).

Cote Saint-Luc has required smoke alarms in homes for decades. Our volunteer Citizen on Patrol Smoke Detector Brigade does hundreds of home visits every years to ensure the safety of residents.

vCOP Smoke Detector Brigade goes door to door inspecting mandatory smoke detectors and will go so far as to install a new one (Photo: Martin Chamberland, La Presse)

The time has come to adopt a municipal bylaw in Cote Saint-Luc requiring at least one CO detector in every house, regardless of the year it was built. These devices are cheap and readily available at hardware stores and pharmacies, easy to install (many simply plug in) and alert you once the device has expired in 7-10 years. They also save lives.

Today’s tragic incident in Cote Saint-Luc is a grim reminder of the consequences of carbon monoxide.

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CO poisoning suspected in CSL

CSL seniors who died in their home were pleasant, quiet neighbours

 

Fire safety at home

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Smoke detector

Smoke detectors can be purchased for under $10 and can save your life

Yesterday’s news of a tragic fire on Van Horne Ave in Cote des Neiges should serve as a strong reminder that everyone is responsible to ensure that they have working smoke detectors in operation in their homes. 

In Cote Saint-Luc bylaws require smoke alarms to be installed on every level of the house, located in the common area (corridor) serving each floor.

If your house has been constructed after September 1987, then you must have inter-connected smoke alarms, meaning that when the corridor mounted smoke alarm sounds on the bedroom level for example, all of the smoke alarms will sound throughout the house.

We strongly recommend the installation of additional smoke alarms within each bedroom, as well as the installation of carbon monoxide detectors. In rental housing, it is the responsibility of the landlord to supply the smoke alarm and the tenant is responsible for the annual maintenance (changing the battery).

Deadly consequences need not happen in so many cases like yesterday.  Such horrible outcomes can be avoided by simply following basic fire prevention rules. Be sure to check your smoke detectors monthly and change your batteries when the clocks are adjusted in the spring and fall.

Read more safety tips from my blog or from Cote Saint-Luc’s website.