At the start of the winter season, I saw an article in a health magazine about the dangers of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. The article gave the common symptoms: headaches, dizziness, fatigue, "flu-like" symptoms and recommended having Carbon Monoxide detectors in your home, because Carbon Monoxide can cause brain damage and death.
I checked the article off in my brain, because we had two Carbon Monoxide detectors upstairs, near where we sleep. Good, no worries.
As the winter months wore on, I noticed that my girls were complaining of headaches - one more than usual. I also noticed I was having more headaches and I was extremely fatigued, easily forgetting what I was thinking or doing, and a general malaise about writing and house work. But I chalked all those things up to viruses or winter blues.
About three weeks ago we started to remodel our basement. One night our Carbon Monoxide detector went off. I thought it was strange, and maybe had something to do with remodeling. My hubby told me to set it outside for a while, turn it back on and see if it did it again. That night I sat up until 3 a.m., but it didn't go off a second time.
A few days passed, and the same thing happened - just at night. I went through the whole process again.
It did it a third time - in the exact same manner - about a week later. We couldn't figure out what was wrong, but since it only went off once at night, we thought it was just a malfunctioning unit.
Last night, around midnight, the detector went off again, and this time the second detector also went off on the other side of the house. I knew something wasn't right because my headaches had been constant for three days and my muscles ached so bad I felt like crying. I also could have laid down and taken a nap at any given time, which is unlike me. So at midnight we wrapped the kids up in blankets, pulled them out of their beds, and went to my parents' house.
This morning my husband had the gas service company come in immediately. We discovered the hot water heater had a significant leak - significant enough that he turned the heater off and gave us instructions for airing out the house and what long term symptoms to look for.
The repair man came in and took care of the problem and we left the windows open on the house all afternoon (thankfully it was about 34 degrees here today - and not minus 10!).
After spending the day away from the house, my muscle aches and headache have gotten better. The doctor told us the symptoms could remain for up to 4 days, but hopefully after that, we'll all start to feel better. I'm pretty sure we've been suffering from low level toxins for quite a while - months, even - but it escalated to the point of making us very sick in the past few weeks.
I'm so thankful we had the Carbon Monoxide detectors! I've learned that approximately 400 people die a year from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in America. What surprised me the most was that I thought only furnaces could produce Carbon Monoxide, but this was our water heater! Which means that everyone is at risk.
If you don't have a Carbon Monoxide detector, please get one today. Besides having them near the bedrooms, I now have one near our utility room (which I should have had before). I fully believe it saved our lives.
What about you? Do you know anyone who has ever had a Carbon Monoxide leak? Do you have detectors in your home?