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Carbon monoxide detection provides local family with security

Garfield County Environmental Health Department
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Editor’s note: In recognition of National Air Quality Awareness week, Garfield, Eagle, Mesa, and Pitkin County, the city of Aspen, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are working together to raise awareness about indoor and outdoor air quality issues, encouraging communities to “share the air.”

Lixy Alcorta and her two young children were just returning from church when she heard an alarm going off inside her home. The alarm warned: Danger, Carbon Monoxide.

“We were about to put the kids down for a nap,” Alcorta recalled. “If we hadn’t heard the alarm going off, I can’t even imagine.”



On her Facebook page that day, Alcorta posted the message, “Everyone should get a carbon monoxide detector. I feel like it saved our lives today.”

Carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless and can kill a person before you are even aware of it.



At lower levels of exposure, it causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu, such as headache, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue.

Home heating devices such as furnaces, wood stoves, or fireplaces can produce carbon monoxide if they are not vented properly or are not properly maintained.

Carbon monoxide can also come from tobacco smoke, car exhaust, gas stoves, generators and other gas powered equipment.

“People are more aware in light of the tragedy in Aspen,” said Kristin Davis of Bishop Plumbing and Heating, which has employees certified in carbon monoxide detection.

Davis said calls to the company on carbon monoxide leaks are pretty frequent during the heating season.

Ron Schiller, on the EPA Region 8 staff in Denver, said households without carbon monoxide detectors may be exposing themselves to carbon monoxide without knowing it.

He advocates that people purchase an audible alarm system with a battery backup that will still function in a power failure. Schiller advises that people should look at the ‘parts per million’ of carbon monoxide that a particular detector measures, as some models only pick up high levels.

Schiller noted that carbon monoxide alarms are a backup, not a replacement for regular maintenance of combustion equipment.

Households should still have a trained professional inspect, clean, and tune-up central heating systems (furnaces, flues, and chimneys) annually, and have any leaks repaired right away.

“This simple action could save your life,” Schiller said.

For more information on carbon monoxide, call Garfield County Public Health at 625-5200 or visit http://www.garfield-county.com.


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