The conditions that led to four deaths and the sickening of another 12 in an outbreak of carbon monoxide poisoning in Toronto had medical officials warning Ontarians to protect themselves.
In an update published Tuesday, Ontario’s Ministry of Health reported that all but one of the 36 people sickened with carbon monoxide poisoning since the start of 2018 were hospitalized, and that four people died from the incident.
Of the 36 who tested positive for the toxic gas, 12 were hospitalized — three of whom died.
Of the 36, six were people living in their vehicles at the time of the incident, which was reported around 4:00 a.m. local time on Jan. 24, at Toronto’s Brick Works.
Early reports indicated that some of the victims were men sleeping in vehicles, a popular trend in Toronto and Canada.
To protect themselves, the ministry is urging Ontarians to continue to park in approved “off-street” parking and to keep their vehicles’ windows closed at night.
Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless and sometimes smells like rotten eggs or rotten meat. It can be fatal, especially in confined spaces, and can cause symptoms within minutes of exposure. Symptoms include headaches, nausea, dizziness, confusion, chest pain, weakness, and seizures.
Carbon monoxide detectors are not recommended due to the many problems associated with the devices. However, until more is known about the circumstances of the events, any home or business that uses gas devices for heating, cooking, or other purposes should install a carbon monoxide detector. To do so, head to LiveSafe.ca.
“As we know from past investigations, there are many details that are unknown and we encourage anyone who may have had symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning to contact their family doctor,” health minister Helena Jaczek said in a statement.