Quick thinking saved this family from CO exposure

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It was shortly after 2 a.m. on a Monday this past summer when Nick Abraham was jolted from sleep by the sound of a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm in his parent’s home where he was spending the night.

“It took me a moment or two to figure out what was going on,” said Abraham, who works in the Multimedia department at DTE Energy. “Not knowing much about CO, I started opening windows and sticking my head outside to breathe the fresh air.”

He knew enough to realize that everyone needed to get out of the house.

“I went to my sister’s room, who needs to use a power wheelchair, so I put her in that and got her outside,” he explained. “By then, my parents were already heading out of the house, too. It was pretty hectic.”

Once outside, they called the fire department.

“The firemen arrived pretty fast, but the scary thing was that my family and I were all experiencing headaches – no doubt from the CO exposure.” Abraham said.

The fire department contacted the local gas utility that determined a gas water heater in the basement was the source of the CO.

“They said it was emitting about 70 parts per million of carbon monoxide. We had no idea what they were talking about,” admitted Abraham. “They shut off the gas, made sure the house was clear of CO and told us we could go back inside. My parents had the water heater repaired the next day. The whole ordeal lasted about two and a half hours.”

It also had a lasting impression on the DTE employee, who went online to research the hazardous gas.

“Carbon monoxide is hard to detect because it is odorless and colorless, so I think everyone should have a carbon monoxide alarm in their home,” Abraham said. “To hear about people dying from CO poisoning is especially tragic because it is such a preventable death. This experience really emphasizes the importance of installing CO alarms where you live.”