Friday the 13th may be bad luck for some folks but this day proved very lucky for an elderly woman in west end Ottawa.

Her carbon monoxide detector roused her out of bed, likely saving her life. It was just before 8 this morning in a home near Richmond.  An elderly woman was startled awake by her carbon monoxide detector.  The woman was surprised by the alarm going off and immediately called her son, who then phoned 911.  That turned out to be a very wise decision.

The woman's son said her wood stove had a blockage, causing deadly carbon monoxide gases to build up inside the house.  Firefighters were quick on the scene.

“At that point, we found levels unsafe,” says Deputy Chief John Gillissie, with Ottawa Fire Services, “so we made sure that was taken care of and out of the house and safely away from where she was supposed to be.  Because she had a working CO alarm, it was a very lucky day for her.”

Earlier this month, there was a similar call to a home on Orillia Street in Alta Vista. This time, 6 people were home.  It was a cool October morning and they had just turned on the heat.

“This time of year, everyone starting up furnaces,” says Gillissie, “and things are getting cold and people start using portable heaters and starting up their cars in their garage to warm them up, but mostly it's the furnaces that can be an issue.”

Gillissie says regular furnace checks are important.  Carbon Monoxide detectors, though, are critical and now mandatory in Ontario houses with fuel burning appliances like furnaces and fireplaces. 

“We’ve had one for years,” says one woman in the Byward Market.

“I have two,” says another, “One on upper floor and one on lower floor.”

That's the recommendation.  Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless gas that can kill if levels are high enough. This little monitor could mean the difference between life and death.

“I don't have one in my house,” says a man visiting from Montreal, “but it is useful and not too costly.  It’s important for us to protect our homes, so I think I may go get one.”

Like smoke alarm, carbon monoxide detectors need to be replaced about every ten years. The batteries need to be changed at least once a year and they need to be tested every month.