Whitehall, Mi. – Mandy Oliver had been baking dinner and pumpkin pies for most of Tuesday night when she started to feel tired and nauseous.
By 9 o’clock, her husband, Scott, complained of similar symptoms. They were about to excuse it away as early signs of the flu and go to bed when a carbon monoxide detector activated.
Turns out the $24.99 investment probably saved their lives. After changing the batteries in the CO detector, it continued to sound, warning of high levels of the poisonous gas in their small rental home in Whitehall.
They called 911 and were told to evacuate. Mandy woke their children, ages 1 and 3, and went to a neighbor’s while Scott waited for the White Lake Fire Authority.
The fire department checked the CO levels in the home and they were at 30. The number is supposed to be zero. The family was sent to Mercy Health Partners Hackley Campus for evaluation and were diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning, Mandy said.
The levels in their blood were not high enough to require an oxygen chamber, but the situation could have become much more serious. They waited until Thanksgiving night to stay at home again.
“The fire department explained to us that had we not had the detector in our home we would have continued to breathe the air, and eight to 10 more hours of that would have proved deadly,” Mandy said.
Fire officials also called DTE Energy, and both agencies determined the gas stove was not vented properly, she said.
Mandy estimates the stove had been on for three and a half hours, the longest she remembers ever using it. Plus, the 900-square-foot house was closed up tight.
“That gas was just wafting through the air,” she said. “It makes sense with the size of house.”
They have lived in the home about a year and are in the process of moving to a home they recently bought. They purchased a second CO detector since the incident and plan to install both of them in their new home, plus a third for the third level.
Scott got the first CO detector after hearing about a family in Colorado that died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
With the arrival of colder weather and more people using their stoves during the holidays, Mandy wanted to share her family’s story as a reminder that carbon monoxide can kill.
Mandy intends to contact legislators to push for a law requiring CO detectors in all homes.
“This device is an option (in older homes) and it should not be,” she said. “It shakes you up. The scary part is you think I’m just so tired, I’m just going to go to bed. But people do not wake up once they go to sleep.”
White Lake Fire Authority Lt. Gregory Holman confirmed there was a call for a CO alarm activation on Tuesday night, but he did not have details of the case. He agrees a detector can be lifesaving, especially for those who cook and heat with gas.
If it starts reading levels of any kind, people should call 911 and remove themselves out of the situation, he said. You never know how long you’ve been exposed to it.