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Can you dig it? Barrie woman says it could save your life

Julia Lina says shovel snow from furnace vents
2018-01-03 Gas furnace vent
Photo courtesy Julia Lina

Julia Lina wants to share her 'really scary' brush with danger so other homeowners can be spared a fright - or worse.

Just three months after Lina and her fiance Joe Cavarra moved into their first house last year, Lina just happened to stop back at their Cunningham Drive home while running errands. 

"Thank goodness I did," she said.  "As soon as I opened the door I smelled gas. My small dog, Lily, a Shih Tzu under 10 lbs had thrown up in a few places. I thought it was odd. I was trying to figure out where the smell was coming from. I was running up and down the stairs.  Maybe my car because I park in the garage? But it was too strong of smell to ignore."  

Lina decided to call her mom and get her thoughts on the situation. Her mom said grab the dog, get out of the house, call 911 and ask for the fire department. 

So Lina left her house, pulled her car out of the garage and called 911, explaining what she was experiencing. 

"It was a really terrifying experience. Seeing the firefighters all going into your house and trying to find the cause. Then I see them at the side of my house shovelling."

Lina didn't understand what was happening until the firefighters explained.

"It turns out the snow that we had got was blocking our furnace exhaust and the gas was just coming back in and circulating around the house!" she said.  

Lina and her fiance also had no carbon monoxide detectors. She shudders to think what could have happened.

"If I didn't come home or there was some sort of spark it could have caught fire. Or even worse while we were all sleeping and no one would have known. We would have been dead."

The next day the couple went out to buy CO detectors and new smoke alarms as the ones they had were as old as their house - 18 years.

Now the alarms are all installed on every floor and Lina wants other homeowners to follow the advice of Barrie Fire and ensure the vent for your furnace is free from snow and clear snow from your gas meter.

"Thankful my family and dog are alive and well," said Lina. 

Barrie Fire says while you're at it, please clear the snow from fire hydrants too.