Carbon monoxide detector saves lives of Walker family

WALKER, Mich. — The Walker Fire Department is crediting a carbon monoxide detector with saving the lives of a family.

Last April, Jessica Mitchell called the fire department to install a detector in her family’s home after seeing a news story about a family who died to carbon monoxide poisoning in a vacation rental home.

Early Tuesday morning, the alarm started going off.

“It went off around 4 in the morning and I just took the batteries out and set it right there on the shelf and kind of forgot about it for a few days and then I put new batteries in,” she said.

She says the family began actively looking to replace their furnace, but stayed in their home. Mitchell cracked the windows overnight, but when her son wasn’t feeling well, she decided to get carbon monoxide levels checked.

Firefighters say that if it was just a little bit colder and she waited a few more hours, the situation could have unfolded much differently.

Lt. Dean England said carbon monoxide levels were right on the threshold when they walked into the home, but they immediately spiked when they turned on the furnace.

“I’m convinced, 100 percent certainty, that if you left that furnace on in cold weather, it would be a different situation,” he said.

Walker fire inspector Phil McCormack said he believes the detector and opening the windows saved their lives.

The Walker Fire Department has installed around 50 carbon monoxide detectors in the last year or so, but said this is the first time they have witnessed one save lives firsthand.

“This is when you really realize how these programs impact the community in a positive way,” McCormack said.

Mitchell says she hopes her family’s situation will inspire anyone who doesn’t have a carbon monoxide detector to get one now.

“I will never just take the batteries out of anything and set it on the counter again. Like we will immediately respond to these things,” Mitchell said. “I don’t know why we wouldn’t, that’s what they’re there for.

“If you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector, you need one. Now.”

The Mitchell family was checked out by doctors today, and everyone is going to be just fine. They are using space heaters until they can get a new furnace.

Officials say anyone having symptoms like a headache, nausea, vomiting or feeling lethargic should check carbon monoxide levels in their home to be safe.

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