Sun Prairie, WI – A Sun Prairie man said his life as been saved twice by a carbon monoxide detector.

Like many, Bill Forrest said he put off installing carbon monoxide detectors in his home, but he said he is thankful every day that he eventually did.

“About 5:30 in the morning this alarm went off and I was so groggy and tired I don’t know how much of it was lack of sleep and how much of it was the carbon monoxide,” Forrest said, recalling the first time the detector went off.

That time, the hot water heater was responsible for the toxic gas. The power company said it was amazed at the levels the family had been exposed to.

“(The power company) said, ‘It’s really bad in there. He said you guys really should not have awakened. We should have just hauled you out of there dead,'” Forrest said.

Less than a year later, Forrest said a remodeling contractor broke furnace pipes and carbon monoxide was in their home again.

“That was our second time in one year that little baby (the detector) probably saved our lives,” Forrest said.

Lori Wirth, with the Madison Fire Department, said carbon monoxide is very difficult to detect in a home without a carbon monoxide detector.

“We have recorded several saves just this winter, and it’s something that we obviously believe very strongly in because carbon monoxide poisoning is so difficult to detect any other way,” Wirth said.

Wirth said the winter months are the worst for carbon monoxide dangers, especially during power outages during winter storms. The department recommended that everyone have a detector in at least the sleeping areas of their home. Forrest said he now has six in his house because he doesn’t want to take any chances.

“I have two granddaughters, you bet I feel lucky,” said Forrest. “They were both born this year and we wouldn’t have them if it hadn’t been for that.”

The Madison Fire Department offered some tips for buying a good carbon monoxide detector for homes.

Fire officials recommended getting a detector with a minimum of 85 decibels so it will be loud enough to wake a family when it goes off. They said that hard-wired detectors are good, but recommended having a battery backup so it can still be used during a power outage.

Officials also said to make sure the unit has an “Underwriter Laboratories” seal, guaranteeing it is a quality model.