If you’ve ever wondered how important smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in homes, here are some life-saving examples. These are devices we most often take for granted.
Francisco and Fidela needed a combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector. They reached out to their son, Captain Lara of the Omaha Fire Department. They fit the criteria for eligibility to receive the detector from the First Responders Foundation and the Omaha Fire Department by owning their home and being physically or financially unable to provide it themselves. The Omaha Fire Department made a visit to their home and installed the detector in their living room.
Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors Save Lives!
One Friday afternoon, not long after the installation, their daughter stopped by as she often did to check on them and to help with household chores. That day she decided to assist with deep cleaning the kitchen. She started cleaning the gas stove and noticed that food had fallen down in the crevices so she began to clean around the heating elements. Being a “neat freak” she took the elements out to clean them and put them back.
Later that night more of the family stopped by, as was tradition, to see grandma and grandpa and play cards. As they were playing and enjoying their evening the new smoke and carbon monoxide detector began to chirp. There was no smoke, and nothing had happened in the house, so they thought that the detector was malfunctioning. They tried to ignore it or reset it but it just wouldn’t stop.
They decided to call Capt. Lara and let him know that the detector was broken. He responded to his parent’s house to see what was going on. Sure enough, he arrived with his team and there was no smoke. They went to the basement and again there was no sign of smoke. Then they used what they refer to as the carbon monoxide “sniffer” to test for a carbon monoxide leak. They checked downstairs and there was a faint detection. They tested the air upstairs and carbon monoxide was detected.
Capt. Lara then contacted the Metropolitan Utilities District (MUD) and asked them to come and check for a gas leak. MUD arrived about 15 minutes later and they were able to detect a leak coming from the gas stove. They found that although the elements had been reattached, one of the elements was just slightly off and not completely snapped back together. That slight difference was allowing a slow leak from the gas stove.
Francisco and Fidela were so thankful that the leak was detected and no one was hurt or worse. This is a perfect example where the family did the right thing and called the fire department to find out what was actually happening. They opened the windows and let clean air fill the house.
Their daughter felt bad that she had not completely reconnected the heating elements but she was so thankful that her parents and the rest of her family were not harmed by the gas. If this can happen to Capt. Lara and his family it can happen to anyone!
Life span of 10 years
The Omaha Fire Department tells us that sometimes when a detector is altering without any smoke etc. it may be malfunctioning and may need to be replaced or have the batteries changed. Most smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have a life span of approximately 10 years. After 10 years it is a good idea to replace them. Some people are concerned with the cost of replacement, but remember replacing them is much cheaper than paying for physical damage after a fire and human life is irreplaceable.
Is very thankful that the First Responders Foundation works with fire departments to install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Mary has a unique situation. She is deaf in her left ear and has some hearing loss in her right. The day that Capt. Lara, along with Sergio Robles, OFD Fire Community Safety Specialist arrived at her house, Mary was not wearing her hearing aids. Capt. Lara shared, “Mary was telling us about her old fire system and we had to keep repeating ourselves.
She told us she was not wearing her hearing aids and apologized. It was then that I told her we would also install a hearing-impaired detector.” Mary has the hearing impaired part of the detector on her end table and she is so thankful to have it. As always we hope she doesn’t ever need it, but it is such a comfort to her knowing it is there and in working order if she ever does need it.
Mary said the representatives from the fire department were friendly and kind and she is very appreciative of the service. She knows that the devices are expensive and is thankful for the program that serves the community by helping people save money and keep them safe. Mary said, “If this can save me from a fire that will be wonderful, it has been a good thing. I am so glad the fire department will come out and do this for people.”
Wanda K’s son passed away three years ago and she had no one to help her with her smoke detectors.
She attempted to reach one of her detectors and ended up breaking it. At 83 years old with a bad back and leg, she decided she better not stand on a chair and try to do this herself. So after a few months without a smoke detector, she reached out for help.
The Omaha Fire Department installed a new combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector for Wanda and also replaced the batteries in another detector that again she could not reach. Wanda said, “I asked them what will I do when these batteries run out in the new detector, and they told me I wouldn’t have to worry about that for 10 years. Wow, what a miracle! I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Wanda shared that the two gentlemen that came to her house were kind and pleasant and knew exactly what they were doing. She feels so secure and so much more at peace now that she has the detectors. She is so glad the firefighters are there for us.
Jennelle and Dave S. from Papillion believe in carbon monoxide detectors.
Jennelle, Dave, and their three children were watching TV upstairs one evening when the carbon monoxide detector in the basement started to alert right outside her son’s bedroom. They had not noticed anything unusual. Dave went to find out what was happening and he discovered that the carbon monoxide detector had a reading of 491 PPM.
The family has a boiler, a pressurized water heating system, and Dave suspected a leak in the boiler. He turned the boiler off and the family evacuated the house. Jennelle contacted the Papillion Fire department and they instructed them to open as many windows as possible in the house and to stay outside as a reading of 491 PPM could be deadly. All Jennelle could think of was what if this had happened in the middle of the night and they didn’t have a detector, with her son’s room in the basement? She shuddered to think of what may have happened if that had been the case.
Eventually, the level went down to zero and with the blessing of the Papillion Fire Department, the family went back inside. Thankfully due to the carbon monoxide detector her family experienced little to no symptoms and all were safe and sound.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide poisoning happens when too much CO is present in the air we breathe, which can reduce the oxygen in our red blood cells. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are dull headache, dizziness or weakness, nausea, confusion, blurry vision, flu-like symptoms, and vomiting. A carbon monoxide detector reading over 9 PPM is dangerous. 200 PPM will cause headaches, dizziness, or nausea after 3 hours. 400 PPM will cause severe headaches after 1-2 hours and death after 3 hours. 1600 PPM will cause death in an hour and over 10,000 PPM will cause death in less than 10 minutes.
Part of the mission of the First Responders Foundation is to enhance public safety. We urge everyone to have a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector. If you own your home and are in need of combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector and you are not able to provide one for yourself, contact us and we will help you get one installed free of charge. There is also help available if you need your batteries changed.
First Responders Foundation
Private donations and grants make this program possible. Thank you to everyone who has helped with financing including Immanuel Vision Foundation. The detectors are purchased through FireGuard Inc.
Donations are always needed and appreciated. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation click here.
If your smoke and/or carbon monoxide detector activates and you can’t figure out why all fire departments recommend you do just what Francisco & Fidela and Jenelle did – Call 911! It can be a matter of life and death.