WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — A Wyoming family is alive and well after a close call with a silent killer.

The family was alerted to a carbon monoxide leak just hours after a monitored detection system was installed in their home.

“It would have been game over,” Ray De La Cruz said.

He and his family started a new chapter in their lives on Jan. 5 when they moved into their new home in Wyoming. They decided to have home monitoring company ADT install a system. It offers an optional service De La Cruz wasn’t familiar with: carbon monoxide detection.

“I don’t know, something told me to go with the carbon monoxide,” De La Cruz said.

Early the next morning as Ray, his wife Carla and their three boys ages 7, 3 and 1, were asleep, the alarm went off. At first, it confused De La Cruz.
“I was like, what’s going? What’s this? What’s this? What does CO mean on the little panel?” De La Cruz recalled.

After missing an initial call from ADT, Carla De La Cruz called them back. With permission from the family, ADT provided News 8 a copy of the audio recording of the call to its dispatcher center. On the call, Carla DeLa Cruz asks the ADT dispatcher what to do.

“You need to leave the premises,” the dispatchers can be heard replying emphatically. “The carbon monoxide alarm is a serious thing. You can’t smell it, you can’t taste it. You just need to leave until the fire department gets there.’

So that’s exactly what the family did.

The alarm center operator also alerted Wyoming firefighters, who were on the way. What fire crews found when they arrived could have turned a cautionary tale into a tragic story.

The home’s furnace had malfunctioned, spewing deadly levels of odorless carbon monoxide into the home.

“They told us we were really lucky to get out,” Ray De La Cruz said.

According to the National Carbon Monoxide Awareness Association, CO poisoning is blamed for 1,200 deaths and 50,000 emergency room visits every year — and that’s just the reported cases.

With the emphasis on smoke detectors over the years, carbon monoxide detectors are sometimes the forgotten extra element of home safety.

“Smoke detectors have been embedded in everybody’s mind.” Wyoming Fire Chief Brian Bennett said. “But don’t forget that CO detector. That’s just as important.”

A carbon monoxide detector.

Local fire departments provide information on the best locations to install CO detectors and many departments offer the units for free, along with smoke detectors.

“Carbon monoxide is the invisible killer. Fortunately, the De La Cruz family had working carbon monoxide alarms, which protected their entire family and alerted them to quickly evacuate their home and escape the deadly, odorless gas,” firefighter Michael McLeieer, president of the nonprofit charity E.S.C.A.P.E. Inc., said.

“This is a perfect example why all Michiganders should not only have working smoke alarms but also carbon monoxide alarms on every level of their home to protect what matters most,” McLeieer continued.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.

CO detectors can pick up the signs of the gas long before it accumulates at a dangerous level.

While ADT offers the detection as part of its monitoring systems, you can also pick up CO detector units at any hardware or big box store. It’s a small price to pay for your safety.
“If we would have stayed sleeping, we would have never woken up,” Ray De La Cruz said.