A Lowcountry family forced from their home because of what is known as the “silent killer”, carbon monoxide.
“Its colorless and odorless in of itself,” said Daniel Byrne of the Burton Fire Department. “You could be breathing it in not realizing it could be a toxic dose until its too late.”
One local family was able to get out just in time.
“They had a carbon monoxide detector in their home and it activated,” said Byrne. “The good thing is they didn’t ignore it or try to reset it, they immediately called 911.”
They got a near lethal dose of CO from their own water heater.
“The appliances we have are electric so they don’t think about the water heater, has combustion, has a flame,” explains Byrne.
That was the second time in a month Burton firefighters dealt with carbon monoxide and a potential set of victims.
“Fumes were coming right inside the house, the family was sleeping, a family member noticed in the morning they were disoriented they weren’t acting right, got them out of the house, they got a toxic dose of carbon monoxide.”
They all went to the hospital for treatment. Just adding to the 20,000 people each year CO2 poisoning sends to the emergency room.
More than 400 people die each and every year.
“The signs and symptoms are the same as having a common cold, headache, dizzy, nausea,” explains the firefighter. “You think you are feeling well, you aren’t paying attention to it, you lay down and don’t wake up.”
And it doesn’t take long. To test it, we put a carbon monoxide detector in front of a tailpipe.. in seconds you could hear the alarm sound, dangerous levels of CO in the air.
“It doesn’t take a lot of carbon monoxide to overcome you,” said Byrne. “You don’t realize you’ve been overcome and by then its too late.”
Byrne recommends having a detector on every floor of your house, just in case.
Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors can save lives, but they don’t last forever.
Byrne says smoke detectors, not just the batteries, should be switched out every 10 years.
But carbon monoxide detectors even sooner. they should be replaced every five years.