On Friday night, January 6, 2017 at 6:15 PM, one of our carbon monoxide alarms suddenly went live.  It wouldn’t stop, even when I took it outside.  When the second one alarmed, I called 911 and the police and fire department arrived, with us outside as directed, even though it was only 7 degrees.  They found carbon monoxide in our master bedroom and master bathroom  on what is the third level of our house, the ground level being the foyer, my husband’s shop in what is actually a garage, though it’s never been used for one. We also have two other rooms and a bath on the ground level.  However, they could not locate any source of the deadly gas. So, we had to pack ourselves and the cat up and move to a motel a few blocks away and at which my daughter-in-law had obtained a large suite for us to use for the night.
Carbon Monoxide Detector

Carbon Monoxide Detector

The following day, as directed by the fire department, I called the heating/plumbing company  to check the three natural gas appliances in our home – furnace/water heater/drier and found zero CO.  The fire chief had volunteered to come back and check  with him and he also found zero CO. However, we were told to have carbon monoxide detectors (we already had three) in all bedrooms and on each floor of our house, which we now have for a total of six.
On Monday, another technician from the heating company appeared at our door to do a courtesy check, to make certain all is well. And yesterday, the heating company came and changed our vinyl exhaust pipe to the gas drier to sheet metal.  Apparently, that is a new federal housing code rule.  The old vinyl style is considered to be a fire hazard, plus there’s always a chance a hole might appear in such a vent pipe.
I can now tell you how scary it is to lie down in your bed at night with the knowledge you just may never wake up again due to carbon monoxide.  The fire department moved one of the detectors inside our bedroom and I keep another just outside of it. At this point, that is what I depend on to warn us, should we be in danger. Two years ago, we purchased our detectors after a couple was found dead from carbon monoxide in a motel room in a distant town.
Carbon Monoxide Detector

Carbon Monoxide Detector

This is something each and every one of you should do for your safety because it is odorless and deadly.  With nothing showing CO in our case, the only possible explanation is that earlier, my husband had our Jeep running just outside the open garage door in the basement while he used an acetylene torch to thaw the hydraulic lift on the snow plow.  He also had our pickup truck running with the exhaust pointing in the exact opposite direction from the Jeep, but also right outside and parallel to the open garage door.  Speculation is that the furnace, just inside the door, sucked the exhaust into the house and spread it through the ducts and upstairs.  Our house is an open chalet style, but the bedroom and bathrooms do have walls and doors, though the doors were open.
A weather inversion can also cause carbon monoxide when it doesn’t allow your appliances outside vents to work properly.  It was unusually cold the night of our own experience.
Also, in spite of the hatred for law enforcement and  firemen today, always support and be grateful  for your police and fire departments because they may be the ones who save your life sometime.
I’m writing this as a public service announcement to make sure you have adequate carbon monoxide detectors wherever you are.  They also might save your life some day or night. Having them saved ours.
Author Jackie Taylor Zortman and husband, Richard.

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman and husband, Richard.

Jackie is a Charter Member of the Public Safety Writers Association

PSWA Member graphic[1]


About jtzortman

Author of "WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW" - A Grandparent's Journey Through Grief, first place award winning novel "FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST" and award-winning novel "SNOW ANGEL". Contributing author to anthologies "Felons, Flames & Ambulance Rides", "American Blue", "Recipes by the Book: Oak Tree Authors Cook" and "The Centennial Book of The National Society of Daughters of the Union 1861-1865". Numerous articles, poems and short stories published since 1990. Charter Member of the Public Safety Writers Association and member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Winner of ten writing awards. I live in a quaint Colorado mountain tourist town with my husband and Siamese cat. When deeps snows blanket the terrain and spectacular views from my windows, it becomes the perfect spot in which to write.
This entry was posted in Carbon Monoxide, Colorado, Fire Departments, Home safety, Jackie Taylor Zortman, Public Safety Writers Association. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to THE LAST BREATH?

  1. That must have been very upsetting Jackie. Thanks for writing about your experience with this. A good warning for all of us.


    • jtzortman says:

      Yes, it was, John. However, we came through it and that’s the important thing. I’m happy to hear that one of my cousins in Ohio doesn’t have CO detectors, but she’s buying them now after reading my blog. That makes writing about it worthwhile.


  2. mmgornell says:

    So glad you’re okay! And thank you for the post. Keep safe.


  3. sharonervin says:

    Oh, Jackie, this is such an important warning, especially this time of year when we are closed up tightly with our various natural gas appliances. Friends of ours lost their beautiful 20 year old daughter several years ago as she slept with friends in a rustic motel with rooms heated by open gas stoves. As it turned out, the stoves were not vented at all.


    • jtzortman says:

      Hi Sharon, That is just a terrible story about your friends’ daughter’s loss. That’s so very, very sad and just carelessness on the part of the motel owners.


  4. Bob Martin says:

    Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors-probably the cheapest form of life insurance one can buy.
    Glad that it worked out well for you.
    Bob Martin


  5. John M. Wills says:

    Good post, Jackie. We’ve used these for the past several years . . . just in case.


    • jtzortman says:

      We bought ours two years ago and, so far, so good. It’s scary when they do go off, though. Everyone should buy them because they aren’t expensive and are so life-saving.


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