The Weston Volunteer Fire Department (WVFD) responded to a call with “very high” levels of carbon monoxide at a home on Godfrey Road West early on Wednesday, March 2.
The homeowners called at around 3:30 a.m. saying their carbon monoxide detector went off, but they weren’t sure if they had an actual problem.
“As soon as I walked into the front door our detector said the carbon monoxide levels were very high,” said Weston fire Chief John Pokorny. “We found that their woodstove had a leak and caused the carbon monoxide to back up into the house.”
Even though carbon monoxide is odorless, there was no strange smell from the wood stove that indicated anything was wrong with it.
WVFD evacuated the residents and vented the carbon monoxide from the house.
Pokorny called the situation a “success story” for the department, adding that it could have turned dangerous.
He said the WVFD responds to an average of two carbon monoxide calls weekly, but it’s often a false alarm.
“People really need to trust their carbon monoxide detectors and call the fire department,” he said. “Don’t think that you have a bad battery, don’t think it’s an anomaly.”
Pokorny recommends that people check the dates on their carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they’re still functional.
“They’re a necessity, everyone absolutely needs to own one,” he said. “It’s life-saving technology and they’re inexpensive.”
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), carbon monoxide is a deadly, colorless gas that emits no peculiar odor. It kills more than 400 people annually in the United States.
The NSC offers some tips on preventing carbon monoxide poisoning in one’s home:
- Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas- or coal-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
- Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors.
- Never use a generator inside the home, basement or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door or vent.
- Have the chimney checked and cleaned every year.
- Make sure gas appliances are vented properly.
NSC says some of the symptoms of low-level carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, and nausea.
It recommends that homeowners check their carbon monoxide detectors monthly to make sure they are working properly.