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A personal story from a thankful family

(NC) – We see tragedies every day and think, “Thank God it's them and not us.”

But how does it feel when it IS you? My name is John Gignac and this is my family's story.

In early December 2008 my niece Laurie Hawkins, her husband Richard and their two children Jordan and Cassandra all died from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in their home in Woodstock. A chimney vent attached to their gas fireplace was blocked. They did not have a carbon monoxide alarm.

For 34 years I was a firefighter. But I didn't know much about carbon monoxide. I felt guilty because I didn't tell Laurie to install a CO alarm in her home. After the accident I promised my family that I would make it my mission to warn people everywhere about the danger of carbon monoxide, where it comes from and its symptoms.

For the past five years I have worked hard to keep that promise. And I have been proud to know Ernie Hardeman, the Oxford MPP who introduced “The Hawkins-Gignac Act.” Yes he is a politician, but he is a very community minded person who finishes what he starts.

His vision to make CO alarms mandatory in all Ontario homes that are at risk of carbon monoxide has been voted into law. Now, all Ontarians must do our part. Protect your family by installing a CSA-approved carbon monoxide alarm in your home. It is your only protection from this silent killer.

Learn more about carbon monoxide at and

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