Walker family grateful for free CO detector program

Kent County

WALKER, Mich. (WOOD) — A family says the Walker Fire Department may have saved their lives when firefighters installed carbon monoxide detectors in their home.

It is a service they say no one should live without.

In April, the Mitchell family asked Lt. Dean England out to the house to install carbon monoxide detectors.

“They were here within a day or two and I wanted it in the proper place,” Jessica Mitchell, a stay-at-home mom of two, told 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday.

The Mitchells have an older furnace, but they’re in the process of replacing it. Over the last few weeks, they have been feeling headachy and fatigued, especially 7-year-old Cyrus.

“My son felt not so great last night and this morning, so I kept him home from school,” Mitchell said. “We are set up to get a new furnace and we were going to tough it out until that furnace came.”

Then the carbon monoxide detector went off. They aired out the house and it stopped, but Mitchell was worried.

“I called the gas company first and they charge a hefty fee to come and check that for you, so she suggested I call the fire department. They were here within 10 minutes after I called them,” Mitchell said. “I think I didn’t call sooner because I felt like I was a nuisance but, man, you should call right away, because it could have been different and I’m so glad it wasn’t.”

Firefighters found levels at about 40 parts per million. That’s not immediately dangerous, but can cause issues over time.

“Had it not been for the detector we put in place, this could have been a whole different situation,” England said.

An ambulance was called for Cyrus and the paramedics advised the family to go to the hospital to get tested. They did not have elevated levels of CO in their blood.

They aired out the house and now using space heaters until the new furnace is installed.

“I’m super, super glad I called you this morning,” Michell told England.

“Yeah, we’re happy we came. This is definitely a success story for our program,” England responded.

Firefighters say they have seen these detectors save lives.

“Every house should have a carbon monoxide detector because you can’t see it, you can’t smell it,” Walker Fire Inspector Phil McCormack said. “The big red flag is you’re feeling these symptoms, your carbon monoxide detector is alarming, you should get somebody over there to check it out, which is what they did.”

Walker is able to offer and install detectors in part because of a federal grant that helped get the program off the ground nearly a decade ago. Firefighters show residents where to install them, especially important near the furnace and bedrooms.

Most fire departments offer fire and carbon monoxide detectors installed free of charge. If they don’t, they can help you find someone who does.

If you choose to get a detector from the store, it should come with placement instructions.

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