Family tragedy shows hidden danger

By Gerald V. Paul

Guyana-born businessman Paul Rampersaud’s took to video detailing his Brampton family’s death to serve as a warning to others during Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week.

Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that is the leading cause of poisoning deaths in North America. Known as the silent killer because it is odorless, carbon monoxide kills an average 50 Canadians each year, including approximately 11 Ontarians.

“Don’t wait until something happens,” he cautions, before equipping your home with carbon monoxide detectors. “Look into it before, check and make sure it (a detector) is working, make sure you have it.”

The video was created and released by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) for Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week, which was last week.

Rampersaud’s brother Peter Pitamber, 60, owner of the Calypso Hut restaurant, Peter’s wife Seeta, 59, and their son Terry, 36, all died in the home as they slept.

He tells of being awakened by another nephew in the middle of the night.

It was freezing cold in the home that night, so they brought a heater inside the house that he had used in his restaurant in the past without problems.

“I never even thought what damage this could have done,” he said.

By law, all homes must have a CSA-certified carbon monoxide alarm installed near all sleeping areas. Safety officials also urge everyone to have a certified technician check all furnaces, gas stoves, fireplaces and fuel-burning appliances every year.

Common sources of carbon monoxide include furnaces, hot water heaters, gas or wood fireplaces, portable fuel-burning heaters and generators, barbeques, stoves and vehicles.

The Ontario Fire Code states that single-family homeowners and owners of residential buildings with no more than six suits have until April 15, 2015, to comply with the new regulation. Owners of residential buildings with more than six suites have until Oct. 15, 2015.

It also requires that in condo and apartment buildings with a service room, CO alarms must be installed in the service room and adjacent to each sleeping area of all homes above, below and beside the service room.

Gerald V. Paul
Gerald V. Paul