Saved by a worried neighbor


A 25-year-old woman escaped death thanks to the vigilance of her neighbor after carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a faulty catalytic converter last Wednesday.

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“I was just waiting in the car for it to thaw, and then it’s the black-out. When I woke up in the hospital, I didn’t understand anything,” says emotionally Sarah Amoura, a kinesiology student from France who lives in Quebec.

That morning, Pierre Bilodeau was clearing snow from his balcony when he noticed that the young woman’s car had been running for some time.

Seeing that there was still a lot of fog in the windows – a sign that there was someone inside – he approached to see if all was well.

That’s when he saw Ms. Amoura barely breathing, slumped in her seat, cell phone still open in her hand.

“I immediately opened the doors and turned off the engine.

“When calling the emergency services, I tried to wake her up by shaking her, but there was no response,” recalls Mr. Bilodeau, still shaken by the event.

Defective catalyst

Having arrived in the province for a year for her studies, Sarah Amoura had just purchased an old second-hand car before winter.

The week before the incident, a garage told him that his car’s catalytic converter had broken, but that there was no short-term danger. It was a big mistake.

Part of the toxic gases that escaped from the car were sent back inside the passenger compartment.

All this, helped by small holes under the car and a certain amount of snow that had accumulated around it.

“The doctor told me that if I had stayed 10 more minutes, I would have died.

“A chance that I had a guardian angel”, underlined the student, referring to her neighbor.

A sneaky product

Traumatized by the event, Ms. Amoura has not been in her car since.

She is also thinking about the possibility of filing a complaint against the garage, which told her that there was no problem.

“I thought I could trust him, I don’t know anything about cars. It is certain that I resent him, ”she said.

Ms. Amoura and Mr. Bilodeau hope that their story will raise awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide when it is not properly evacuated.

“I was the first to tell myself that it only happens to others, but it’s a sneaky gas.

“I had not planned to die that day,” concludes the young woman.

What is carbon monoxide (CO)?

  • Carbon monoxide is released when appliances or vehicles burn certain fuels.
  • It is a toxic gas that cannot be seen, smelled or irritated to the eyes or the respiratory tract.
  • Only a carbon monoxide alarm can detect its presence.

The effects of CO in the air

  • 200 parts per million (ppm) = Headaches 2 to 3 hours after exposure.
  • 600-700 ppm = Headaches and nausea 1 hour after exposure.
  • 1600 ppm = Symptoms in 20 minutes. Loss of consciousness, coma and death 2 hours after exposure.
  • 3200 ppm = Symptoms in 5 minutes. Coma and risk of death in 30 minutes.
  • 6400 ppm = Symptoms in 1-2 minutes. Coma and risk of death in 15 minutes.

Source: Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS)



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