Special offer

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: My Own Thanksgiving Nightmare

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Properties

At 4am on Thanksgiving morning, I was awakened by a very loud "Alert: Carbon Monoxide..."  As I tried to get to the hallway to shut off the alarm, I quickly realized how shaky and nauseated I was.  I headed downstairs for my cell phone to call PSE&G.  It took them about an hour to get to me.  Thank God the townhouse wasn't on fire!

When the serviceman tested the air, he said "We need to get windows and doors open, and you need to go outside." He said the levels of carbon monoxide throughout the townhouse were "dangerously high. He also told me something I want to share with everyone who reads this.  He said that most people don't bother having the exhaust chimney checked (the one that vents your furnace and hot water heater), but it should be done every three years. Then he turned off my furnace and hot water heater, and told me not to turn them back on until the problem had been fixed. It was Hurricane Sandy all over again.

 Have you ever tried to get a hotel room at 5am on Thanksgiving?  I finally got one, and called to leave a message for my heating and cooling guy to come and fix the problem.  As you might imagine, no one works on Thanksgiving.  But, they were able to come the following afternoon.  They determined the chimney had, indeed, collapsed and the carbon monixide was forced inside instead of out.  They said I was lucky to get out.

It made me think about many of my clients --- especially those who have been in their homes for more than 20 years --- who have smoke detectors, but not carbons.  When I express concern, they simply say, "It's never been a problem."  I explain that carbon monixide is oderless and tasteless, and that only their survivors will know when it's a problem.  Then I buy them the detectors.

We all need to be more diligent about this not just for our own homes, but those of our family, friends, colleagues and clients --- and anyone else we might be talking to. 

I'm old enough to remember Vitas Gerulatis, the famous tennis player.  He stayed at a friend's cottage, in the Hamptons, and was found dead from carbon monixide poisoning leaking from a faulty heater.  His death saved countless people when a law was passed requiring carbon monoxide detectors be installed outside of all sleeping areas.

Having a tough time deciding on Christmas gifts?  How about carbon monixide detectors for those you care about?

Dan Hopper
Dan Hopper - Gold Way RE - Westminster, CO
Colorado Broker / Referral Services

Wow, Kate .... what an experience!!  These are never the type of things one wants to go through, and especially after going through all the other natural disasters in that area!!  Glad to hear you are safe... best wishes for you as you head into the remaining Holidays!!!

Nov 26, 2012 02:13 AM
June Piper-Brandon
Coldwell Banker Realty - Columbia, MD
Creating Generational Wealth Through Homeownership

We have carbon monoxide detectors in our house, nauxious gas detector and smoke detectors all over our house.  My daughter was doing laundry one time and crayon had melted inside the dryer and she tried to clean it with different cleaners but hadn't wiped it again with a damp cloth to get rid of the residue - when she turned the dryer on all the alarms went off.  Thankful it was only residue in the dryer and thankful that our alarms all work!!

Nov 26, 2012 02:14 AM
Kate Conover
RE/MAX Properties - Franklin Lakes, NJ

Thanks for your posts.  It made me realize how many people either don't have detectors, or when they go off, just remove the batteries and never put them back in.

Best wishes for a happy holiday season, and lots of listings next year!


Nov 26, 2012 03:26 AM
Jim Patton
Aspire Home Real Estate 209-404-0816 - Modesto, CA
Realtor - Stanislaus ,Merced, San Joaquin Counties

I'm glad to hear that everything is ok Kate.   Thanks for reminding everyone that they should have WORKING smoke detectors and Carbon Monoxide detectors. 

Nov 26, 2012 08:23 AM
Brian Morgenweck
Power Realty Group, LLC Bergen County, NJ - Hackensack, NJ
Broker/Owner, GRI, CRS, ABR, SRS

Glad you came away, unscathed, Kate!

Now, get that chimney fixed so Santa can make his grand entrance.

Better luck Christmas morning! ;-)

Nov 26, 2012 09:49 AM
Kate Conover
RE/MAX Properties - Franklin Lakes, NJ

Actually, it wasn't the chimney Santa would come down if he existed.  It was the exhaust chimney for the furnace and hot water heater.  Turns out it can take weeks to get carbon monoxide out of your system.  My clients must think I've been drinking at 9 am (stuttering).  As I tell my friends: at the end of the world, all that will be left is me, Cher and a cockroach.

Thanks for the posts, and Happy Holidays!

Nov 27, 2012 01:06 AM