Jeremy Ranch, UT – When Jackie Bass and her husband, Dan, heard their smoke alarm going off in the middle of the night Monday, they weren’t immediately concerned.
Bass said the couple’s power had gone out at their Jeremy Ranch home a few times over the last several days and suspected it was malfunctioning because of that.
“That always seems to mess with smoke alarms and they start going off for no reason, so that was in the back of our head,” Bass said. “So we got up and one is going off in our upper loft and one downstairs, but there is no fire. We ended up deciding to reset the alarm thinking it was just a mistake.”
At around 2 a.m., the alarm started screeching again while repeating the phrase, ‘Carbon Monoxide warning’ every 10 seconds, Bass said. The couple immediately called ‘911’ and were instructed to exit their home as soon as possible.
“The reading is supposed to be at a zero, but it was registering 35 (parts per million) on the main level and around 600 in the mechanical room,” Bass said once crews arrived. “It was at that point that the fireman, who was unbelievable, said, ‘you just don’t know how lucky you are.’ And he kept repeating it.”
After fire crews were certain the home was clear of any traceable amounts of carbon monoxide, the couple was allowed back inside.
“We kept thinking, ‘we can’t believe this is happening,'” she said. “I have been struggling with a very bad cold and not sleeping very well.
At around midnight that night I had made the decision to go downstairs and sleep on the couch to let my husband sleep, but for some reason I just didn’t. I think it was an angel looking out for me.”
According to Casey Vorwaller, a public information officer for the Park City Fire District, the Bass’s experience is not uncommon, especially around this time of year. Vorwaller estimated the PCFD receives about eight calls a month concerning carbon monoxide leaks.
“It’s actually fairly common and more prevalent during the winter because if we get these deep snows, those vents only go up so high and that gas builds up,” Vorwaller said.
Each year, more than 400 Americans die from carbon monoxide poisoning, more than 20,000 visit the emergency room and more than 4,000 are hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that is difficult to detect, Vorwaller said, adding that the only way to detect a leak is with a specialized device. Carbon monoxide makes its way into homes because it is found in fumes that are produced whenever a fuel is burned, such as in stoves, grills, fireplaces and gas ranges.
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be similar to the common cold and include headache, dizziness, grogginess, chest pain and vomiting.
One of the best ways to detect a potential leak in the home is to purchase a detector, similar to a smoke alarm, Vorwaller said, adding that they can be found at stores such as Walmart and Home Depot.
“Everyone should have one on every level of their home,” he said.
Bass said the following morning they purchased detectors for every level in their home. She encourages fellow homeowners to do the same.
“I’m a Realtor here in town and I will bet you every one of my clients will know about this and know how to take precautions. I have heard of this happening every once in a while, but this could easily happen to anyone,” she said.
Bass said they determined a piece of ice fell from the roof and had landed on the exterior exhaust pipe, causing the leak.
“We have been here for nine years and have never experienced anything like this,” Bass said. “I have just never imagined.”