Carbon Monoxide Story

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Winter is starting to approach. Soon it will be time to start up your furnace. Along with that comes a dramatic increase in calls to local Fire Departments regarding Carbon Monoxide (CO). This story is from one of our employees and is 2 years old now, but still worth reading and the reminder:

Last Thursday evening about 9:30 p.m. Sara and I are sitting downstairs watching CSI. The three boys are upstairs in bed. Suddenly we hear this loud chirping sound coming from upstairs. Smoke detector? No, the sound wasn’t right. Well the boys came charging down as I’m on my way up to see what it is. I discovered at the top of the stairs it was our Carbon Monoxide (CO) detector going off.

Hmm, that has never happened before.

It’s reading 130 on the display and I think it’s just gone nuts. I unplug it and bring it downstairs and plug it into the kitchen. Well, soon enough it’s reading 117 downstairs. I’m again thinking it’s just an older unit that has gone wild. But what the heck let me call someone and get another opinion.

I decided to call the administrative line to the Fire Department (no way I was going to call 911 over a bum detector) and an officer picks up the phone. I explain the situation to him and ask him if 130 is normal? He says, no sir, get out of the house and we’ll be right over.

So we get on our shoes and coats and head out the door. We put the kids with some blankets into the car parked out in the driveway so they can be warm. Soon enough a police officer comes (no siren thank goodness) and then the Fire Engine. I explain the situation to the fire fighters and they grab a portable CO meter from their truck. I escort two of them into the house. We got about 3 ft. in the door and their meter display turned red and the fire fighter loudly said, OK, everyone back out now.

Course, now I’m thinking, Oh My.

They proceed to put on their oxygen tanks and masks and head back into the house. They called more trucks to the house because they are required to have more people there in case the guys entering the house have to be rescued themselves.

They were in there for about 15 minutes and took readings throughout the house. In the 15 minutes it took, the levels had escalated from 130 ppm upstairs to 288 ppm of CO. They believe the source was the gas furnace or hot water heater according to the readings and shut down both down. They opened up all the windows in the house and it took about 40 minutes for the CO levels to get back to where it needed to be to go back in. Well, we decided to hit a hotel for that night.

The bottom line is this. We had a CO detector and it worked. Had we not had that detector and gone to bed that evening then my entire family and I would have died in our beds overnight from the CO. CO is odorless, tasteless, and lighter than air and kills hundreds if not thousands each year. The master bedroom had the highest readings.

If you don’t have a CO detector in your home and you have natural gas or propane burning appliance (dryers, furnace, stove, oven, hot water heater, etc) please get one. Not tomorrow, but right now. Most stores like Meijer, Target, Wal-Mart all sell them.

The presence of a CO detector in our house saved my family’s life. Make sure it has an opportunity to save yours.

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Safety Toolbox Talk Webmaster replied the topic: #10
Just FYI, this is my true story from several years ago. Pretty scary stuff and a story I still share each year with others.