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NOVEMBER 2020 by Jane Weihe

A couple of weeks ago we were enjoying a Zoom session on our back porch with some NYC friends when our carbon monoxide alarm went off. It was a warm and humid night. But this time was different.

Our kitchen and back of the house living area were closed off with the air conditioning on. The first reaction of all of us was that this was a malfunction of the alarm. In fact, my husband’s first response was to wave a dish towel at the alarm to turn it off. We had often done this to shut off the smoke detector when it had obviously been activated by a cooking adventure.

Fortunately, instead of dismissing our CO alarm, my husband called 911 who immediately directed us to call our local fire department. Much to the excitement of the neighborhood, our local Saratoga Springs Fire Department arrived with lights, but fortunately no sirens. Readings were taken both for ourselves and inside the house. Our levels of CO were high but not deemed worthy of a trip to the ER. Readings in the house were very high near the stove in our kitchen. Our SSFD installed industrial strength fans in our doorways to vent the house, unplugged our stove, turned off the gas, and called National Grid. When the CO readings had dropped to a safe level the SSFD departed and we waited for National Grid.

At 11PM a National Grid rep arrived who did a thorough investigation and identified our stove as the source of the problem. We are now working through the process of getting our stove repaired, but wanted to share our experience as a cautionary tale.

So here’s the takeaway:

-Be sure your smoke alarms are also CO detectors and that they are functioning

-Take immediate action if an alarm goes off! Do NOT assume it is a malfunctioning alarm.

Many thanks to the Saratoga Springs Fire Department and National Grid for their efficient responses. Be well.