My husband and I were awakened by a phone call in the middle of the night. A time of night when you get that feeling in the pit of your stomach when the phone rings, because you know it most likely is not good news.

Our 12-year old daughter was having a fun sleepover at her best friend’s house since they had a scheduled day off of school. It was her friend’s mom on the other end of the call and she said, “Everything is fine, however the fire department is here because our carbon monoxide detector went off.” They did detect low levels of carbon monoxide in their home and they were checking all of their oxygen levels to make sure they were normal. It was later determined that because their basement had recently flooded, the combination of the moisture occurring in the furnace area caused a combustible gas to form.

This is the second time within a month that this has happened to someone that I know.

My friend’s son in Perrysburg, Ohio had this same experience, except it was much more severe, as the family all had symptoms that ranged from vomiting, to losing consciousness and finally seizures. The levels detected in their home were severely elevated. When the fire department arrived, they detected 200-400 parts per million (PPM) in the living area and levels exceeding 599 PPM in the basement, which was on the same floor as the furnace.

In fatalities due to carbon monoxide, people could be exposed to just 50 PPM.

Both of these families had two things in common:
1.  They both had carbon monoxide detectors. Thankfully, my daughter’s friend’s family had an operational carbon monoxide detector. However, the Perrysburg family’s detector unfortunately did not sound an alarm because it was expired. 
2.  Each family had purchased their home within the last year. Both had home inspections, however neither hired a certified service technician to inspect their furnace specifically.

Please make this concern a priority. Check to make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. If you have one or more units, test them regularly. If you don’t have a detector, please purchase one.

Additional thoughts:
-Ensure you have carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of your home and replace them every 5-10 years as per the manufacturer instructions. 
-Install the detectors low to the ground.
-Spend the time and money to get regular maintenance checks on your furnace.
-If you move into a new home, invest in your safety by having the furnace checked by a certified technician.

I am thankful that our middle of the night phone call was not as bad as it might have been. We could have been waking up to an entirely different, life-altering scenario. We are also very grateful to my daughter’s friend’s parents for having an operational carbon monoxide detector in their home.

For more information about carbon monoxide visit

Article written by Michelle Drain, Nurse Practitioner, Kingston Health Care Company. Sponsored by Kingston Residence.

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Michelle Drain

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