Carbon Monoxide Detectors Save Lives in Heartland Homes

Some Heartland residents are speaking out about the importance of carbon monoxide detectors, after the monitors in their homes saved their lives. 

According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, the poisonous gas accidentally kills around two hundred people each year.  Bill and Dorothy Versheldon of Perryville, and Judy Darling of Carbondale, all say they escaped being added to that list, simply because they had working detectors.

When the Versheldons heard a persistent beeping noise on a day back in November, they weren't alarmed at first.  But their usually quiet carbon monoxide detector was trying to tell them something.  “After the third time we decided that it's time we called somebody,” says Bill Versheldon.  “So we called city hall and the fire chief came down.”

What the chief found when he got there was a leaky furnace, which had filled the Versheldons’ home with three times the deadly level of carbon monoxide!  “He came upstairs and told us, ‘If you'd have gone to bed, in two or three hours, you would have been gone,’” Dorothy Versheldon recalls.  “That’s when I thought, ‘Okay, this is serious. We will be getting out of here!’”

What makes carbon monoxide so dangerous is that you can't smell it and you can't see it.  And contrary to the misconception that the deadly gas only leaks from old furnaces, carbon monoxide can actually come from any fuel-burning appliance in your home.  “A lot of people think ‘Our furnace is pretty new, so we're okay,’” lists Dorothy.  “’Or we just burn wood, so we're okay.’ Or that once your furnace gets going in the fall, you're okay.  And these are all misconceptions.”

For SIU associate professor Judy Darling in Carbondale, it was bad ventilation from a hot water heater that was pumping the deadly gas into her apartment, activating her detector when she ran the washing machine.  “I grabbed my pets, and I called the fire department from outside,” Darling says.  “I couldn't have taken any longer than ten minutes to get out, and that was enough to put me in the hospital for two days and really affect my short-term memory.”

Months later, Darling still takes medication for her memory, and has since moved from that apartment.  The Versheldons have replaced their leaky furnace.  Now all of the near-victims tell as many people as they can about the importance of checking household appliances for problems, and especially, of installing carbon monoxide detectors.  “If we didn't have one, we wouldn't be sitting here talking today,” declares Dorothy Versheldon.

You can buy a carbon monoxide detector for around thirty dollars at most hardware and discount stores.  It would make a great Christmas gift, which could save the life of someone you love. 

You can learn much more about carbon monoxide safety and the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, by clicking on the following link: