Tuesday, August 21, 2007
What's that beep?
It was a sound I didn't recognize at first. I batted at the smoke detector with my dishtowel (hey, I'm only 5 feet 2 - what can I do?) but then I realized it wasn't the source of the piercing tone that filled the apartment.

I finally figured it out. The carbon monoxide detector was going off. Now what?

First of all, I'm just glad to know our little monitor - previously ignored, since we didn't even realize our landlord had installed one -- works. The five young Virginia Tech students who were hospitalized after falling ill on Sunday didn't have CO monitors in their off-campus housing, according to Dr. Bret Stolp of Duke University (he's one of the docs who treated the students). Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas, often called a "silent killer." So the students, and the 18 others affected in the incident, probably had no idea there was a leak before they passed out in their sleep. (Full Story)

Back to the beeping. It made me panic. I knew that if it was the smoke detector, I could be sure there wasn't a fire because I'd smell smoke or see flames or something. But with CO, how do I know it wasn't leaking all night and that I'm not about to pass out any moment? Or potentially worse, suffer any sort of neurological damage?

The first thing you should NOT do is ignore the beeping, advises Stolp. Open all windows and turn off any appliances such as your gas-fired furnace or a running generator. And if you have any sort of symptoms such as headache, nausea, dizziness, or confusion, you must get to a hospital ASAP.

Luckily, it turns out the beeping was the monitor telling us that its batteries needed to be replaced. That's another thing too - you have got to make sure the darn thing actually works, in order for it to protect you and your family.

Have you ever had a carbon monoxide scare? What did you do, and how were you affected? Did the recent carbon monoxide scares prompt you to install a monitor in your home?
A piece of duct piping disengaged from the furnace & water heater. Not knowing that this pipe should be situated over the water heater, we tossed the piping in a corner. Five months later the A/C technician came in for a tune-up and he was horrified we tolerated headaches, sleepiness, and inactivity. Within a week we purchased a carbon monoxide detector.
Dear Shahreen,
In Japan more than 20 people died from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a defective gas geyser over the last couple of two decades. At first nobody thought that it was from carbon monoxide poisoning, but the family members of victims investigated on their own and the fact was known. I think a monitor is the most effective tool for that, nevertheless that kind of tool has not become widely used here.
I had a carbon manoxide detector scare years ago when my children were in middle school. I started working full time, and there was only a difference of 2 hrs or so from when the children got home from school and when I got home from work. I got the dredded phone call, they had just gotten off the bus and got in the house and the carbon monoxide detector was going off. The first thing I asked was if our cocker spaniel was okay and she was. I told them to go to the neighbors house with the dog and tell him what was going on. He came over to the house and opened all the windows, they stayed at his house until my husband and I got home. We never really figured out what set it off, it wasn't a battery problem because the detector plugged into the wall. We got it because we had installed a wood stove insert into our fire place and we also have a oil furnace. The furnace would have been the likely culprit, but it was checked out and there were no problems with it. The point is that my children knew just what to do in this situation, and I figured that if the dog was still intact the problem couldn't have been that bad, and I am also thankful that I had a neighbor where the kids could go to and who could react to the situation.
Two summers ago, while my twin boys were napping, I heard what I thought was my house alarm going off. I couldn't understand why it was going off and called the alarm company. They confirmed that is wasn't the house alarm or smoke detector. After looking all around I finally realized it was our carbon monoxide detector. I immediately called the gas company and asked them what to do. They told me to call 911 and have an engine come out to my home. I woke the boys and evacuated the house while we waited for the firemen.

Immediately upon entering our home the firemen’s carbon monoxide monitor went off and they wouldn't let us back into our house. The cause was a slow leak between the furnace and hot water heater in the basement. It took the firemen about 4 hours to clear all of the CO out of our home. Interestingly, I had been having difficulty running on our treadmill in the basement in the weeks prior to this, but credited it to not having my land legs back after returning from a cruise.

We now have carbon monoxide detectors on every level of our home. Our HOA published a letter from me in our neighborhood newsletter warning of the dangers of CO, even during the summer, when no on really thinks about, or hears anything about it. Without our CO detector, my twins might not be here today.
Being safety conscious my sister and her husband installed CO detectors when they built their 1st home. When they signed a contract on their second home they immediately purchased CO detectors for it.

The first day in their new home they were so busy unpacking that they didn't get around to installing the CO detectors. That night their 2 year old started throwing up. My sister got up, changed his sheets, and opened all the windows because of the smell.

In the morning all 4 of them had a headache. They took the 2 kids to the sitter and went to work. When my sister got to work she realized they might have CO poisoning. She immediately took the 2 children to the Dr. He ran some tests on my sister and the 2 kids, and they did have CO poisoning. The gas clothes dryer had been improperly vented. The only thing that saved the family was my sister opening the windows when she got up with the sick baby. They now say that they will not stay even 1 night in a home w/o CO detectors.
Hello and kind greetings from the seaside of Canada. Yes indeed, we did have a carbon monoxide scare about 3 years ago. In the midst of a true Canadian Winter deepfreeze and snow storm, my dad had our woodstove burning in the lowest level of our home. I think the power had been out for some of the day. My darling little Golden Retriever Indiana loves the warmth of the stove and fell fast asleep nearby. However a few hours later I simply could not wake him up! I actually thought he was dead. Okay, yes, I will admit I burst into tears sobbing like someone in an old black and white Hollywood movie, it was very dramatic. I begged, okay, I’ll admit I was shrieking, to my brother to come quickly and check on my dog. My brother kept trying to wake up my dog, shouting his name louder and louder. Finally my adorable Golden Retriever Indiana opened his eyes! But my dog seemed ill and was very groggy, as if he had been tranquilized. After finally getting Indiana up to his feet we opened the door, and the blast of frosty cold fresh air seemed to revive him. After awhile with the fresh air he started to regain his strength. Indiana jumped up and ran out door and into the deep snow drifts, tunneling through it and bouncing like a maniac, making a complete and utter fool of himself, which told me he was back to his old self! What a relief. After the ordeal, we did research and wondered if it was carbon monoxide poisoning, so we purchased a detector. Sure enough, the alarm was set off shortly after! Since we purchased it, it has warned us a couple of times during similar types of winter days when we were snowed in and the wood stove was being used at full capacity. I think every home should have one on every level of their house. I am very grateful that we discovered it, thanks to my adorable golden retriever, who sits here smiling at me as I type. Indiana wants you to know is just fine and happy as a clam, especially now in summertime as he absolutely loves to swim, and would swim all day long if I allowed him! He is wagging his tail, so I think he wants me to say hello from him! Smiles from Areti Gina by the sea in Canada…and Indiana too
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