Dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide was the reason the Cobourg Community Centre was closed on Monday, January 21, 2019.
Today’s Northumberland first broke the story the CCC was closed because of carbon monoxide at the facility earlier this week.
Carbon monoxide is often called the “silent killer. It is a colourless, tasteless gas that you can’t smell and causes illness that can lead to death.
The Town of Cobourg issued a release stating, “The Town of Cobourg would like to advise citizens that the Cobourg Community Centre will be closed today and all classes have been cancelled,” on their public notice section of their website, but there was no press release issued.
Temperatures for the day were a bone chilling -25 degrees Celsius with the wind chill.
A number of people didn’t get the message as they showed up to the facility either in vehicles, getting dropped off, or by transit.
Director of Community Services Dean Hustwick spoke to Today’s Northumberland explaining the issue.
“It was due to a unusual combination of factors due to the extreme cold and high wind.”
Because of the cold and high winds, it pushed back the exhaust from one of the boilers into another exhaust outlet that wasn’t being used.
“The extreme cold and wind possibly blowing some of the exhaust back it into a exhaust pipe and entered the building,” said Hustwick.
“It’s the first time that’s happened.”
An carbon monoxide (battery) alarm inside the boiler room was activated, but it wasn’t hooked into the rest of the buildings alarm system.
Hustwick said, three people were on the walking track, and they were asked to leave the track right away. They were in the hallway and the decision was made by the emergency officials to evacuate the entire building.
Carbon monoxide readings inside the boiler room were 560 parts per million. Readings at the walking track were 17 parts per million and downstairs by the front entrance were 18 parts per million.
Three staff at the CCC were sent to hospital for “routine checks” and released.
“Anything like this we always take this very seriously and that’s why the building was evacuated as a precaution.”
Hustwick wasn’t sure how long after the carbon monoxide was discovered that emergency services were contacted, and said, “the people were being evacuated fairly quickly.”
“The boiler was shut off and staff turned on an exhaust fan to expel the carbon monoxide from the building.”
A repair company was immediately called to the facility.
Hustwick said there will be a de-briefing of the situation to learn from the experience.
“Whether the actual bus drivers need to be notified or maybe have someone park right near the entrance to make sure people were notified or people getting off the bus knew so they could get back on the bus.”
“When you’re trying to deal with the most immediate concerns those simple things get overlooked.”
“No matter how prepared you are, there are always things you could do differently or better.”
Carbon Monoxide Levels Risk Chart http://www.myhomecomfort.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/CO_Levels_Risk_Chart.pdf