The Silent Killer – Carbon Monoxide and How to Avert the Danger

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Puzzling things

 

I read a scary article last week over at Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord Invitation, about her near fatal experience of discovering carbon monoxide gas leaking in her home. Besides the frightening story, Sally has a added a great list of tips to follow in that post to ensure your home stays safe from this deadly gas.

 

While I was reading Sally’s article, it brought back two memories of my own where my own carbon monoxide and gas leak detectors went off in two of my homes. Gratefully, nobody was hurt, and equally grateful, both my situations ended up in laughter.

 

One Friday night back in early 2000, a girlfriend was visiting and we were in my basement drinking wine and gabbing in my fairly new home. It was approaching midnight and my husband had long gone to bed when I heard something beeping in the storage room where the water heater was hooked up in. I followed the sound and saw an alert button flashing as it beeped. I tried to read the tiny fine print on the sticker to look for some instruction if it were to beep but couldn’t make it out. Rather to be safe than sorry, I went back in the other room to pick up the cordless phone and came back to punch in the phone number listed for the gas company to call in case of emergency gas leak.

I reported what I saw and heard with the beeping and flashing warning light. The agent said it was good I called and the problem must be investigated pronto, and until the gas company and the fire department were to arrive I was instructed to get everyone out of the house. I knew my husband was snoring like a buzz saw upstairs and wouldn’t be a happy camper if he were to be awakened, but I wasn’t leaving him behind.

My girlfriend ran outside and I ran upstairs to shake my husband awake. As I alerted him to what was going on he mumbled back to me that he was going back to sleep. I was in panic mode and he couldn’t give a crap. He was adamant that he wasn’t getting out of bed and as I kept urging him to get up I could already hear the sound of sirens. So I left him in bed and ran downstairs to greet the crew.

It was after midnight and my girlfriend and me were feeling silly from the amount of wine we drank and were enjoying watching the hunky firemen and enjoyed some conversation with them as they went about my home with their professional carbon monoxide detectors. The gas company service man had checked out the water heater and found that there was something wonky going on with the pilot light which caused it to flash and beep in warning. He left and the half dozen or so firemen remained doing their due diligence to make sure there were no carbon monoxide levels in the house.

My husband remained in bed, oblivious to the goings on in the house and my girlfriend and I spent a bit of time chatting with the handsome firemen when they were done checking things out. All in all, it ended up being a fun night!

 

~ ~ ~

 

In the mid 2000s we built our dream home, a big ranch bungalow for me, complete with a huge 1000sq ft. 3 car garage for my husband to play in. I say play because besides all the man toys and tools and huge John Deere riding mower residing in there, our garage became the party central spot where our neighborhood friends would frequently hang out at on many evenings, regardless of the season. Because my husband insisted on having the garage insulated as well, it was like a huge party room outside the house. The doors were always open until nightly lock up time and it was quite common for a neighbor to pop over for a beer if they saw my hub sitting outside the garage door or inside with the lights on in colder weather.

Our neighbors, Tonie and Wayne who lived across the street became our best friends through the years, and weekend get-togethers were common with several couples hanging out at our house. And during the week, you could always find my husband and Wayne outside after dinner sucking back a beer and plotting what else they could buy for their never ending man projects.

One cold November day the guys were out in the garage and came up with a brainstorming idea that since our garage was so big, there should be a firepit in it to keep them warm outside in the winter. Within minutes of Wayne’s big idea, they drove off to Home Depot to see if they could buy one. And they did.

I wasn’t crazy about the idea of the propane firepit my husband purchased, but he argued that it would only be used if the garage doors were left opened. I gave up and let him have his new toy. That pit got used a lot as Christmas drew nearer, and by January it was downright freezing outside, so cold that ‘Frick and Frack’ decided it was too cold to leave the garage doors opened. And several times I’d open the laundry room door which led to the garage to check on the Bobbsie twins to make sure that the doors were opened. Mostly, they weren’t and I’d reprimand them both of them and hit up the magic door opener buttons on the laundry room wall and freeze them out.

Well into January, one afternoon, I was preparing food in the kitchen when the carbon monoxide detector went off. Of course I couldn’t smell anything, but two of my detectors went off so I hastily dialed the gas company, and once again, the firemen followed. It was extremely cold outside and I was instructed to open the doors and let the cold come in until the firemen arrived. The gas company man came and checked the water heater and found nothing suspicious. I kept running back and forth from the basement to the front door to check nobody was coming into my home with the big double doors wide open in the depths of January as I waved to a few neighbors passing by wondering if everything was okay as they saw my wide open doors and a firetruck on the driveway.

As the firemen did their duty checking around my home, the gas man asked if there was an inside door leading to the garage and I escorted him over to the laundry room. He had his trusty carbon monoxide meter in hand and opened the laundry room door and walked down the stairs into the garage. His meter started beeping with loud nonstop noise and I could see the needle on the meter was jumping all over the place. I looked at him, he looked at me and told me there were very high levels of carbon monoxide in the garage, and thankfully, not in the house! And in that same minute, he spotted the firepit.

I proceeded to fill him in on the reason for the firepit. And he proceeded to inform me about the dangers of having that pit indoors. I concurred.

I later lectured the two man-children culprits about their firepit and what it caused and what it could have caused, and needless to say, that was the end of the firepit. My husband’s daughter was thrilled to have it for her backyard – where it belongs.

My stories had happy endings, but too many stories about this potentially lethal gas don’t end happily. Please read Sally’s frightening story below then continue reading and find out how you can avoid these scary scenarios or worse, from happening to you.

 

Smorgasbord Health Column – Carbon Monoxide – A Silent Killer by Sally Cronin

I thought it was worth repeating this post on Carbon Monoxide dangers in light of the recent reports from the luxury hotel in Egypt that it may have been the cause behind the deaths of two tourists. And resulted in the evactuation of 300 British tourists. The final cause of their deaths is likely to take some time to be revealed, but whilst you cannot control the enviroment when staying in public buildings, you can take precautions to protect yourself and your family from this silent killer.  Unexplained deaths in luxury hotel – Daily Mail

In 2009 I was living with my mother full time and whilst I would spend time with her during the day for the odd hour of two when she was awake, I would spend most of my time in the kitchen diner working on my laptop and within earshot if there was a problem.

We had settled into a routine and most days followed the same pattern. Suddenly I began to experience mild headaches on a regular basis. I put it down to stress and would go out for a walk along the seafront and the headache would subside. Then we hit a spell of very wet weather, and I was confined to the house unless I was out doing the shopping or doing my radio shows.

The headaches got worse and after about four weeks I was in constant pain despite taking painkillers. I went to the walk-in medical centre and they said it was probably a migraine and related to stress. They suggested that I take ibruprofen and try to relax!

I then went to a chiropractor, to find out if perhaps I had somehow pinched a nerve in my neck that was causing the problem. He did some work on my neck and shoulders but could not find any knots. There was no improvement after the session and I was becoming desperate.

I was also becoming very tired as sleeping was virtually impossible and eventually one night about 10.pm, I felt my head was about to explode. The pain was excrutiating, and finally I telephoned my sister to come around and she called an ambulance. When the paramedics arrived they took my blood pressure and it was through the roof. and combined with head pain, they rushed me to hospital as they thought I was about to have a stroke.

When I arrived at A&E the doctor examined me and immediately put me on very strong painkillers and because my saturation levels were low he also gave me oxygen. As the meds and oxygen took effect my blood pressure dropped and after a few hours it was down to a bearable level. He too thought it might be migraines or cluster headaches or an underlying condition and told me to go to a doctor to be referred for further investigation.

I went home at about 5am and slept through to lunchtime. I sat in the lounge with my mother and had an early night still with the niggling pain hovering in my head.

The next day I was sitting in the dining area of the kitchen when the pain began again and Iooked over at my mother’s gas cooker and suddenly the penny dropped. . . Continue reading 

 

 

Source: Smorgasbord Health Column – Carbon Monoxide – A Silent Killer by Sally Cronin | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

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42 Comments

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  1. Thanks for sharing the health warning and I got a chuckle out of both anecdotes.

    Carbon Monoxide poisoning is serious business so I’m glad you were safe both times.

    1. Thanks Damyanti. It is serious business. Every winter there’s a family or 2 in the news who dies in their homes from this fatal gas. 🙁

  2. Hi Debby and Sally – well I’m glad all ended well … but the dangers of the quiet killer are really dreadful – and thanks for the warning … we need experts and advice on how to be safe and stay safe. Thanks for reminding us – Hilary

    1. You are most welcome Hilary. Many aren’t aware of this silent killer’s potential.

  3. Thanks for this important reminder, Debby. I’ll check Sally’s post as well.

    1. Welcome Olga. <3

  4. wow, it just goes to show that Carbon Dioxide alarms are needed in every house. <3

    1. Yes they are Adele. They are law here. <3

  5. Thank goodness for those carbon dioxide detectors, Debby. Especially useful when you have man-children. 🙂 They’re required by law in the US (at least in my state) and fortunately haven’t ever gone off. Great reminder and an easy fix if anyone doesn’t have one. 🙂

    1. Thanks Diana. It’s so important that we all have these in our homes. People don’t realize this gas is odorless and can kill while we sleep. They aren’t expensive to buy, and besides who can put a price on our lives. 🙂 x

  6. Thanks for sharing my post Debby and your experiences.. that garage was a death trap… thank goodness your detectors went off. As to the first incident… better safe than sorry and those fireman were certainly thorough……I have put in the blogger daily…hugs ♥

    1. Thanks so much Sal. Funny how certain stories spark stories in others. 🙂 Your post is an important warning for everyone. And we are lucky that you made it through that peril. <3 xox

    1. Thank you Sal. <3

  7. My goodness, Debby. You have had some lucky escapes. We have never had problems like this but we live in a hot climate. I did nearly set the oven on fire trying to make Yorkshire puddings but that is another story altogether.

    1. Lol Robbie. My whole life has been close calls 🙂 Now I need to hear your story. 🙂

  8. Thanks for sharing Debby and Sally. It helps raise awareness of this silent killer. 🌼

    1. Most welcome Brigid. I hope it helps some. 🙂

  9. Such great stories, Debby, and with such an important message. Needless to say that we have carbon Monoxide alarms in our house. Plus, we get the boiler checked at least once a year which includes the gasman renewing the batteries in the alarm.
    I can’t believe that some people switch off their carbon monoxide alarms, as well as their smoke alarms if they keep beeping, and do nothing. Here, in the UK, the fire department do free checks and in some cases will install them for free, too.

    1. I’m with you Hugh. It’s beyond me how people don’t take these things seriously. We too had our furnace inspected annually in all our homes. Everyone should do their due diligence in protecting their homes. <3

  10. It’s scary because this gas has no smell. I’ve also been thinking about that couple in Egypt, and wondered if their deaths had been due to something like Legionnaire’s disease and faulty air conditioning? We’re lucky that there are now carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms in our homes these days.

    1. Yes we are Stevie. And that’s not the first incident I’ve heard about Legionnaire’s through bad airconditioning systems. 🙁

  11. OK, I get it. I really need to fix my detector.

    1. Happy to remind. 🙂

  12. Oh my goodness, Debby! I couldn’t decide to giggle and laugh out loud or worry!! I’m so glad it turned out in both cases to be no dangerous levels Yet!
    Those men-children made me truly picture them stubbornly sitting out in the garage which could be called a “man cave!” I’m so glad the firemen entertained you and your tipsy girlfriend and the guys didn’t question you about why didn’t your husband listen and get out of bed?! 😀 😄
    Thank you also for sharing Sally who was the impetus to your funny anecdotes! It is a very serious subject, that is so true!

    1. Hi Robin. Yes, it’s so good when we can laugh in hindsight after the fact. Yes, my husband is no different than the average man-child lol. It’s good if we can find the funny in the not so funny. I was definitely lucky! 🙂 <3

  13. Scary !
    Luckily we have a good building management. The old gas boiler in our apartment was cleaned and tested a month ago and the chimney pipes were cleaned yesterday morning. It’s done every year and the boiler is like new. 🙂 <3

    1. Well I’m glad to hear you’re on top of the maintenance Ralph. Better safe than sorry, and you’ve had enough other things to worry about. 🙂 <3

  14. Great info! We had those detectors in our old house–gas water heater, furnace, stove, etc., so the detectors were essential! Now, we live in an all electric (but both active and passive solar) house with no gas appliances and not even a fireplace–so we don’t need them anymore.

    1. Wow, good for you!!! What do you do when it gets cold out? 🙂

  15. You’re right that too many stories don’t end up as happily as yours did, Debby. I’m glad you and Sally both are safe xx

    1. Thanks Christy. Sal’s article reminded me of my own experience, but the importance is on her tips to keep safe. <3

  16. You know Debby I could have sworn I left a comment on this post about this subject.. As I explained about a friend of mind having a narrow escape in her rented property as they were feeling lethargic.. Turns out their boiler was the problem and causing this gas..
    Hope this one registers.. I am very disgruntled with WP as not any of your replies come back to me..
    Love and Hugs Sue fingers crossed.. <3

    1. No I havent’ seen that comment about you sharing about your friend who made a narrow escape. This is such a scary silent killer. I’m so glad your friend survived it. Awareness is so important. <3 xox

      1. Hoped over to read your reply Debby.. and yes she and her young boys had a lucky escape.. Thankfully!

        1. Thank you Sue. And thank goodness for the lucky escape! <3 xx

  17. I am going to try something.. To see if my other logo works on my garden blog.
    Hope so…
    My comments usually appear pending moderation in your blog Debby, but recently they completely vanish altogether as soon as Press Post so wondering what happens with my alternative logo..
    I know I don’t receive relies with this logo as its not my main blog domain and WP only send via my main one to my notification box…
    Sorry I am using you to experiment here Debby.. But its been happening on a few dot com sites I visit in wordpress.. Fingers crossed .

    1. Sue, if you aren’t receiving my replies, I hope you pop back to visit to check, because they are coming through from both of your logos! <3 xxx

  18. I’m glad your two stories ended well, Debby. Especially the last one would have been “self-imposed”. I’m sure the guys will never ever think of having one of those fire pits indoors ever again. Kudos to you for being so diligent in both cases, and playing it “better safe than sorry”.

    Funny you mention these hunky firemen, as I just learned from my female friends in Vancouver that Canadian firemen – especially the ones in Vancouver – are extremely handsome, community-involved and friendly. I’ll have to keep my eyes out. 🙂

    1. Lol, I think it’s a prerequisite to be a fireman!!! Don’t let your eyes stray too far, LOL 🙂 x

  19. This was of great interest to me, Debby, as I hadn’t heard of a carbon monoxide monitor. I don’t have any fuel-powered appliances. Your stories are fun in retrospect but would have been a bit scary at the time, as was Sally’s experience. It is important for people to know of the possible dangers of the products they use.

    1. Thanks for reading Norah. I hope people begin to realize just how dangerous this gas is. 🙂

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