Late on Christmas night, I came home to hear my carbon monoxide alarm blaring. I bought it four years ago, plugged it in and really, forgot about it, although I noted that the red light was blinking continually telling me it was on. I live in a 8 unit brownstone and everyone but one unit had their own alarm and there was one in the basement next to the boiler and two in the hall. Out of 10 alarms the only one functioning was mine - the others worked on batteries and not maintained. Firemen (two trucks) arrived in a flash and then the gas company came. Levels were 400 ml. Over 200ml you must be to be evacuated.
I smelled something the week before and the firemen told me that it was a toxin that is sometimes emitted by your boiler when it is misfiring. As you know, carbon monoxide is odorless. I had called our plumber at the time, who said it was nothing and never checked boiler. On Christmas eve, my friend stayed overnight in my guest bedroom, and had gotten up complaining of a headache and nausea, but again, we missed the clues. Both fire and gas company here for 4 hours airing out house and shutting down boiler and checking everything. We stood outside until 2am until the reading was zero. No heat for two days until a new plumber came, cleaned out chimney and then we had to wait for gas company to check before it could be turned back on.
Moral of the story - please check your monitoring system and if you do not have one, please get one. The one that plugs into an outlet seems to be more reliable unless you are keen on checking batteries often. Very scary experience. I do not understand why those who were home did not hear my alarm as I heard it outside the double outside doors, never mind before I opened my door. What is so scary is that unlike fire or gas, it is a silent killer. Don’t ignore or dismiss the warning signs.
This is a brochure provided by National Grid on Carbon Monoxide Safety.
Please download and read!
National Grid Brochure on Carbon Monoxide Safety