Bay County, MI – Five members of a Bay County family consider themselves blessed after surviving carbon monoxide poisoning.
The scare happened Saturday morning.
Steve and Janet Billmeier said it started out simple enough.
“I started making coffee and I turned on the hot water and we didn’t have hot water,” Janet said.
Steve, who had recently done some work on the hot water heater, went to check on it. When he got to the basement he found a burst water line.
He returned upstairs to find his wife struggling.
“I started feeling faint and I’m like, I immediately, I gotta get to the ground cause I knew I was going to faint,” Janet said.
Steve said Janet then started to struggle to breath, before stopping breathing altogether.
Their 25-year-old daughter ended up doing CPR on Janet. Steve called 911 and opened all the doors to allow paramedics easy access into the home.
“I came to and she was in my face and she said, ‘I love you mom.’ And she says, ‘Can you hear me?’ And I could see her, but I couldn’t respond to her,” Janet said.
When the paramedics took Janet, they asked if Steve wanted to ride along or follow. He chose to follow as he thought he’d be able to drive Janet home later.
“We still thought it was a stroke. We didn’t know. We didn’t smell anything, it was silent, no one else was feeling sick,” Steve said.
Before he could leave, he started to have problems.
Steve said he told his daughter he wanted coffee and ended up sitting on the couch. When he started to slur his words, their daughter called 911, again.
At some point she realized her two girls, ages 1 and 5, appeared to be passed out.
“And then next thing I know two firemen are taking me, carrying me arm-in-arm, out the front door. And then I saw my family, my daughter, my two grandchildren, were laying on the cement,” Steve said.
They all started to improve when they got some fresh air, but all had to be taken to the hospital after breathing in the potentially deadly fumes.
They are thankful to be here, but surprised their carbon monoxide detector didn’t indicate there was a problem.
“It never went off. The carbon monoxide detector was 4 years old. We changed the batteries regularly,” Janet said.
They’ve since been told you should do more than change batteries, carbon monoxide detectors need to be replaced too. Check the manufacturer’s information to learn more.
“You can buy one for $25. Your life’s worth $25,” Steve said.
While initially they thought their hot water heater was to blame, they’ve since learned it was their furnace emitting the carbon monoxide.
A new one is coming this week, to go with the new carbon monoxide detector their neighbors bought them.
“The first thing to go through your mind is, you know, ‘What’s to blame?’ But you can’t think of that, you have to turn it around and say, ‘God blessed us,'” Steve said.
The Billmeiers hope people will either buy a carbon monoxide detector or make sure theirs is still working properly after listening to their close call.