Last week, I ran this in the Author’s Notes area:
It’s very weird to call 911 to summon help, but I did so this weekend. We have a carbon monoxide alarm, and it was going off. Once may be a fluke, but after being reset it went off again, so I asked the fire department to swing by with a professional grade detector to see what they got — and they found 250 ppm of CO, which is definitely NOT good. Luckily, levels in my office were low, but we opened a window, turned the furnace off, and I went back to work. The men in red called the gas company and a beleaguered guy being run ragged by emergency calls all over the county showed up about 5 hours later. I love it when a competent person shows up!
We figured out that the furnace was not defective, but rather the problem was “my fault”: my wife had been painting the walls while I was writing this week’s column, and when she was done I turned on the attic fan to blow out the paint fumes. Since it was chilly outside the furnace had kicked on, but by then there was so much negative pressure from the attic fan that the furnace’s vent pipe had a downdraft, which blew the CO fumes into the basement. Case solved, but we never would have known without that detector. The $40-60 they cost is well worth it. If you don’t have one, give your family an early Christmas present: Get One!
There are hundreds of deaths and thousands of people made ill enough to go to a hospital every year from CO poisoning. Do you have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms? Your (and your children’s) lives may depend on it. If not, get one. Today.