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?
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