La Crosse, WI – The cold weather means more and more people are turning on furnaces and extra heaters and with that comes an increased risk of carbon monoxide leaks. The gas is odorless and deadly.

Rhoda and Rick Roesler planned to spend Tuesday celebrating Rick’s birthday.

“I was in the home, doing dishes, getting ready for the day and I had the downstairs door open, and all of a sudden I started feeling really tired, like I wanted to go to sleep,” Rhoda said. “And I thought well this is odd, and I was ready to get in to bed when I heard a smoke detector go off.”

Rick was next door and Rhoda almost went down to investigate but says something stopped her. Instead she dialed 911. The operator told her to get of the home and wait for the fire department.

“The floor gas meter that we had that measures the amount of carbon monoxide or oxygen, a couple other gases, that started going off,” said Capt. Tony Nickelatti, with the La Crosse Fire Department. “And it read up to 60 parts per million of carbon monoxide.”

“He (the firefighter) said you would have passed out in here and never woke back up,” Rhoda said.

“Carbon monoxide you don’t smell anything and what it does is it clings to your oxygen cells and it’s a blocker of getting the oxygen in to your system,” Capt. Nickelatti said.

Firefighters determined the furnace was source of the deadly gas.

“You never think it’s gonna be you having a problem and the thing is we just had the furnace tuned up,” Rick said.

Rhoda and Rick say they are diligent about maintaining their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and that, combined with the fire department’s quick response, saved Rhoda.

“I cried and I wouldn’t let go of the Captain’s arm and thanked him for saving my life,” Rhoda said.

And Rick decided he had all he needed for his birthday and brought his cake down to the fire station.

“When we were back at the station cleaning up, here they come with a cake, being grateful, saying we really appreciate it, God bless you, have a great Christmas season,” Capt. Nickelatti said. “We don’t get that very often so it’s made our day.”

Rick and Rhoda say it was a small gesture of gratitude to the men they can never truly repay.

Capt. Nickelatti says every home should have a carbon monoxide detector and if it goes off, get out of the house immediately and call 911. Do not open windows to air out the home because hat makes it difficult for the firefighters to determine the source of the leak.