Hickory, NC- In one week, the Hickory Fire Department investigated two carbon monoxide leaks at two Hickory homes.

One incident sent a family to the hospital. Firefighters found high amounts of carbon monoxide in the residence, but no carbon monoxide detector. In a second incident, the family was alerted to the problem by a carbon monoxide alarm before the situation became deadly.

“That is why carbon monoxide alarms are so important,” said Thomas Raper, fire education assistant. “The alarm will alert the occupant if carbon monoxide is present, letting them know to get out.”

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas. It’s created by burning any fuels that create an open flame such as propane, natural gas, wood, oil, charcoal, kerosene and many others, Raper said.

Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The Hickory Fire Department has a program that provides carbon monoxide and smoke alarms to elderly, disabled, low-income, non-English speaking or families with children.

“Our goal is to provide these alarms for people who cannot get one on their own,” Raper said.