Beloit, WI – By Jen Scherer, Beloit Daily News

A Beloit family averted tragedy when their carbon monoxide detector alerted them of a leak in the middle of the night.

The family moved into their new home in the 2000 block of Highland about two weeks ago. Thursday night, their carbon monoxide detector went off, so they replaced the batteries, but it continued to sound. At 12:30 a.m., they called the fire department, according to a fire department incident report.

When firefighters arrived, they learned the homeowners were not feeling headaches or sickness, and the gas appliances appeared to be in good shape. Alliant Energy was called to bring their carbon monoxide meter to the home, and a service man found low levels of carbon monoxide in the house, according to the incident report.

The gas furnace was turned on, and high levels of carbon monoxide were detected from the exhaust outside. The Alliant service man determined that the furnace was not burning correctly, and some of the exhaust must have come into the house through the basement. The furnace was shut off until repairs could be made, according to the report.

“This is an example of how a inexpensive device saved a family’s life,” Beloit Fire Department Deputy Chief Bryan Northrop said. “It had a slow leak and as the heating season rises up, so would the carbon monoxide in this house, but thanks to the carbon monoxide detector, these people were saved a tragedy.”

He urged people to have carbon monoxide levels checked and have furnaces checked.

Residential CO poisonings often are due to improperly vented furnaces, blocked chimneys, or vehicles left running.

People who suspect carbon monoxide poisoning and feel ill should call 911. If a leak is suspected and no one in the family is showing no symptoms of illness, either a furnace repair business or Alliant Energy can check the home for carbon monoxide leaks for a fee.

Common signs of exposure to low levels of CO include headache, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea and confusion. If exposure is ongoing, these symptoms can become chronic, often being mistaken for the flu, and may then lead to more serious health problems.