RI – By Ryan McBride,The Sun Staff- A local couple escaped potential death late Thursday afternoon after their 7-year-old Dalmatian alerted them that their home’s carbon-monoxide detector had activated.

About 25 firefighters from Ashaway Volunteer Fire Association responded to the home at 9 Pigeon Hill Cove Extension, where the poisonous gas had reached more than five times the recommended level, fire department Chief Michael L. Williams said this morning.

Williams said a crack in the home’s wood-burning furnace had leaked the carbon monoxide, an invisible, odorless and sometimes lethal gas.

“(The crack) was allowing the carbon monoxide to get into the house instead of up unto the chimney,” the chief said.

Due to the dog’s timely detection of the alarm, neither Raymond E. nor wife Kathy A. Schmidt grew ill from exposure to the gas, said Williams. He added that the couple had to switch to an oil-burning boiler, and were able to occupy their home after firefighters left Thursday evening.

“If the detector hadn’t gone off, and the fire department hadn’t gotten here when they did, we would have been very sick,” said Kathy Schmidt, who is legally deaf and relies on her Dalmatian, Noel, to alert her of any noise.

She said that Noel led she and her husband to the carbon-monoxide detector located near the stairwell in their living room, where gas readings were 94 parts per million. Williams said that more than 20 ppm is considered dangerous.

The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness are symptoms of carbon-monoxide exposure.

Every year in the U.S., according to the CPSC, about 200 people die from the affects of carbon monoxide released by fuel-burning appliances.

“I recommend that every house have (a detector),” Schmidt said, “Without it we would have been dead. You don’t smell anything, and I have a pretty good sense of smell.”