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Page 4A - Gratiot County Herald

Family credits carbon monoxide detector for saving lives


by Greg Nelson Herald Editor An Elba Township family averted tragedy earlier this year thanks to one small device that many people dont even think about a carbon monoxide detector. John and Dianne Smith, along with their 16-year-old daughter Kelsey, had moved into their new home about a year earlier. The house was equipped with a wood stove in the living area to provide a secondary source of heat to the furnace that was located in the basement. There was a carbon monoxide detector by the wood stove but I had unplugged it about four months earlier because it had malfunctioned and I didnt want it to start a fire, Dianne said. I never gave it a second thought. Fortunately, however, Diannes dad, John Dersham, was a bit leery of the old furnace and installed a carbon monoxide detector in the basement. It turned out to be a life-saving move. Kelsey, a member of the Ashley High School girls basketball team, had come home from school and laid down to get some rest before that nights game, said Dianne, who was at work at the time. John Smith had been working in the house all day and was suffering from a headache and not feeling well. He later heard a faint noise coming from the basement. When John investigated he found the carbon monoxide detector next to the furnace going off, Dianne said. Because he really didnt think there was a problem he got out a hand-held CO sniffer he had to double-check. That also went off with extremely high readings, Dianne said. John immediately started opening doors and windows and went to wake up Kelsey. He told her she had to get out of the house right away but didnt say why, Dianne said. She was nauseous and dizzy. John called Dianne at work and told her what had taken place. I just thought, Oh my gosh, if it wasnt for the carbon monoxide detector I could have found them both dead when I got home, she said. Its a big house, about 2,400 square feet, so it took awhile for it to get to the basement and make the detector go off, Dianne explained. It turned out that the problem wasnt with the furnace but the wood stove. The chimney had been cleaned but there was something else inside the stove that had gotten plugged, Dianne said. The problem has since been fixed and the Smiths now have four carbon monoxide detectors in their home. This could have been a totally different story, Dianne said. Its something people dont even think about. Because of what happened to us we want to spread the word to everyone how important it is to have a carbon monoxide detector in their home. The devices cost between $25 and $50 depending on the model and last about five years, Dianne said. I just hate to think of what could have happened without it, she added. According to the Mid-Michigan District Health Department, carbon monoxide kills about 50 people in Michigan each year. Its an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas produced when fossil fuels, such as coal, wood, oil and natural gas are burned. Furnaces, cars, boats, kerosene

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The Smith family of Elba Township, John, Dianne and 16-year-old daughter Kelsey, averted a family tragedy earlier this year by having a carbon monoxide detector in their home. heaters, charcoal grills, power washers, generators, wood stoves, and basically anything else that burns some type of fuel, produces carbon monoxide. As with the Smiths, most people who are exposed dont even realize it. Thats why its called the silent killer. Some tips from the health department for preventing exposure to carbon monoxide include: Buy and install an approved carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, and make sure to place one near your bedroom. Make sure carbon monoxide detectors have a battery back-up if it plugs into the wall. Have a heating professional clean and inspect your wood and fuel-powered appliances yearly, as well as your chimney and vents. Read and follow all instructions that come with fuel-powered appliances and equipment. Be sure your generator is positioned several feet from your home, away from open windows, doors and air intakes. Do not use fuel-powered items indoors, such as generators, gas or charcoal grills, and camp stoves, even if the doors and windows are open or if you wear a mask. Do not use a gas oven to heat your home, even for a short time. Do not close a fireplace damper until the fire is completely out and the coals are cold. Do not run vehicles in the garage, even if the door is open. If you suspect you have been exposed to carbon monoxide, move outside to fresh air immediately, and go to the emergency room or call 911 if you feel ill.

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Alma College Events


Upcoming College: events at Alma March 18-April 19: The Flora Kirsch Beck Gallery at Alma College presents the annual Senior Show from Monday, March 18 through Friday, April 19. Admission is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. A gallery reception takes place from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 23. March 22-24: The Alma College Dance Company presents its annual spring concert at 8 p.m. Friday, March 22 and Saturday, March 23 and 3 p.m. Sunday, March 24 in the Remick Heritage Center. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors 62 and up, and free for Alma College staff, students and youth 18 and under. Seating is reserved. Call 989-463-7304 for ticket information. March 26: Jared Rubin, an economic historian interested in the Middle East and Western Europe, speaks at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 26 in the Dow Science Center Room L-1 at Alma College. Rubins research focuses on the relationships between political and religious institutions and their role in economic development. Admission is free and open to the public. March 27: The Alma College Jazz Ensemble performs a variety of genres by various composers at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 27 in the Remick Heritage Center. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors 62 and up, and free for Alma College staff, students and youth 18 and under. Seating is reserved. Call 989-463-7304 for ticket information. April 3: Edward Burger, a nationally award-winning teacher and mathematician, shares his insights on critical thinking and creativity during the keynote address for Alma Colleges 17th annual Honors Day at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 3 in the Remick Heritage Center. Admission is free and open to the public; no ticket is required. April 4: Students present their scholarly and creative work at Alma Colleges annual Honors Day on Thursday, April 4. Activities include poster presentations throughout the day and the awarding of the Ronald O. Kapp Honors Prize. All are welcome. April 6: The Alma College Percussion Ensemble presents its annual spring concert at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 6 in the Remick Heritage Center. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors 62 and up, and free for Alma College staff, students and youth 18 and under. Seating is reserved. Call 989-4637304 for ticket information.

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