Carbon Monoxide Detector Saves Des Moines Family

DES MOINES, Iowa -- As the colder temperatures are beginning to settle in, officials say it's time to take a closer look at your furnaces and other appliances.

A Des Moines family said a $15 alarm they didn't even know they had, saved their lives.

It was a normal fall evening when Alisa Woods was giving her daughter a bath and she heard an unfamiliar alarm going off in her home just about one month after moving in. So she called her husband, her father and then 911.

“They have a detector in their hand and they walk downstairs and the firefighter says well it’s not wrong. You have carbon monoxide down here in your basement and so he said everybody out and they would only let the firefighters in full gear with masks and everything downstairs,” Woods said

MidAmerican also responded to figure out where the carbon monoxide was coming from and discovered the source was the water heater.

“When MidAmerican was here and testing it he said if you didn’t have that carbon monoxide detector you would have died. You know, he looked me square in the eye and said if you didn’t have this you would have died. And I’m sitting there holding my two year old, you know, thinking, What could have happened to us had we not had it?” Woods said.

She said a recently installed attic fan also contributed to the problem.

“If you’ve done any recent maintenance on the house, changed things, had a service call; don’t assume that it’s functioning 100 percent. Be conscious when you first turn on your furnaces. Don’t do it at 10 o’clock at night and go to bed. Run it during the day. Make sure your filters, your air is cycling property,” Des Moines Fire Department PIO Brian O’Keefe said.

O’Keefe said it’s important to make sure vents where fumes are released are clear of debris.

“When we moved in our inspector said, “You know it's a good thing to get with an HVAC company, get with a heating and cooling company and have them check your appliances every fall, every spring.” And you know, I kind of rolled my eyes, but now I’m going to get with a company and do that for sure. It’s going to be worth the money that we are going to pay. It’s going to be worth the peace of mind,” Woods said.

O’Keefe said it's important to have a carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home.

Carbon monoxide detectors need to be changed every five years to ensure proper detection.