Aurora, IL – A Naperville landlord is crediting a new state law with saving the lives of a family in one of his dwellings.

As of Jan. 1, carbon monoxide detectors must be installed within 15 feet of every bedroom in nearly every Illinois home and apartment.

So, when he made his rounds to collect his tenants’ rent on New Year’s Day, Jim Freier, property manager for ERA Naper Realty, installed those devices in the apartments he manages.

As it turned out, one of the detectors he installed that day likely saved the lives of Maria Teresa Flores and her three children.

“The first night I had the carbon monoxide detector, it started beeping, and I was so scared,” Flores said.

She got out of bed and called her friends, asking what to do, and they instructed her to immediately call both Freier and 911. She did just that, then, on the advice of the 911 operator, awoke her kids and, after opening every window, evacuated the apartment, standing pajama-clad in the cold morning air, waiting for help to arrive.

With an ambulance and the Naperville Fire Department en route, Freier called Kohler Heating and Air Conditioning, which arrived on the scene in 20 minutes and confirmed that the apartment’s furnace was faulty. Apparently the furnace filter had not been changed and, since it was starving for air, the heat exchanger cracked. The cracked heat exchanger was leaking carbon monoxide.

It was silently killing the Flores family, said Freier.

Flores agreed.

“You don’t see it, you don’t smell it, but you really do feel it,” she said.

The Flores family moved to Naperville from Naples, Fla., in August. Since moving, they just haven’t felt the same, said Flores. They were morning people but, after moving into their apartment, they woke up tired every morning and with headaches.

“Every time we slept with the heater on, it just made us more sleepy,” Flores said.

Flores said she and her children are OK, but also saw a doctor to have blood work done, just to be sure.

For now, Flores is just glad Freier installed the alarm.

“The carbon monoxide detector was a blessing,” she said. “If it wasn’t for that, I don’t know what would have happened.”

As for Freier, who manages more than 60 properties in the area, his opinion of the new law has changed. He has been in the property management business for 18 years, and in that time new laws have required him to tell clients about testing for radon, lead-based paint and mold at his properties. The new law requiring the installation of carbon monoxide detectors added one more thing to that list.

“I take my job seriously, yet many times I am no different than my fellow brokers by feeling the government goes over the top when it comes to our laws,” he said. “Now it hits home.”